What I Know About Style

Herve Vincent, Belleville

Belleville Boutique (now closed)

March
23

Herve Vincent, French concept boutique owner, on his chocolate and magazine addiction

Can you explain the concept of the Belleville Boutique?

The original idea was to present items that both my business partner, Edwige, and I like (mixing the old and new) in a domestic environment. We source from French flea markets to specific suppliers or artists. At the same time we wanted to have a gallery space to show the work of our favourite painters and ceramicists. In the shop, we have a small cafe with a deli, where customers can enjoy a tasty French hot chocolate and homemade croque-monsieur. The idea was to create a place where people want to stay and enjoy a stress-free moment.

Who is your fave French designer?

I personally appreciate the work of Pierre Paulin, for his sense of perfection and beauty. I like to combine art with different found objects to reflect a sense of your own personality. I also like the work of Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec.

Who is your style icon?

My style icon is a friend of mine who has the talent to mix some improbable things together and somehow it works every time… He always has a delightful interior.

What is your bestselling piece?

Vintage plates with pink lines painted on them, which mimic the look of electric tape by design company Pied du Poule… The rebirth of an old plate that would have been thrown out as rubbish reflects what we want to represent.

What is your favourite Belleville lunchtime treat?

Definitely a chicken and mushroom quiche followed by our homemade chocolate and hazelnut tart, served warm with an espresso (I am French after all).

Who are your customers?

Local people, who enjoy a refreshing change to a high street chain; those who enjoy a friendly chat with the owner and want to find things for their homes which they couldn’t find anywhere else.

The store has a very homemade feel to it from the food to the décor. Why is this important to you?

It’s really part of the philosophy of the shop. We’ve designed and done everything ourselves, with our personality and imperfection, so I’m happy you had the overall feeling of homemade because in a way it’s a reflection of life. We also want to show our clients that they can recreate our store in their own homes with their own personalities. I think it’s also the result of my 15 years’ experience in fashion and my deep respect for the people who have the talent to create beautiful things on their own.

What’s your take on contemporary French design?

I would say a certain philosophy of authenticity and a commitment to our roots.

What could you not live without?

My friends and family.

Why did you choose Belleville for the name?

Because it’s the area where I have my flat in Paris and also because it’s a popular and old area in Paris with lots of history. It’s a place where behind simple doors you can find some treasures – if you’re curious enough.

What is your favourite design book?

I like all the books about iconic design creators, but I am really addicted to interior magazines – French or English.

What is your life philosophy?

To enjoy life’s simple moments and savour everyday.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Chocolate.

What are your plans for Belleville in 2011?

To increase our range of products, to organise some new exhibitions in our gallery space and to become more widely known.

Belleville Boutique, 77–79 Westbourne Grove, London, W2

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