Never Never Land

BY Rebecca Anne Proctor / Jun 6 2017 / 20:36 PM

At this year’s Salone del Mobile, Hermès paid tribute to its original métier as a harness-maker. We catch up with the Maison’s artistic directors, Charlotte Macaux Perelman and Alexis Fabry

Never Never Land
An exhibition view of Liens d’Hermès. Background: Coat Hanger in brick bridle leather and palladium-finish brass; vases in Saint-Louis crystal and brick bridle leather. Right: Karumi benches by Alvaro Siza in bamboo. Foreground: La Mante religieuse empechant le chariot by Seulgi Lee
Never Never Land
Carole Bellaiche
Alexis Fabry and Charlotte Macaux Perelman

If you walked around Milan’s quaint Brera District in early April and you would have noticed something different: elegant modern wallpapers on city street walls. An urban installation, if you could call it that, the papers were simple yet impressive in colour, form and theme. And how could they not be when each was specially made by French luxury brand Hermès. In line with the brand’s playful yet elegant nature, these wallpapers appeared everywhere from the façade of a gelateria, to a bakery and a coffee bar. The wallpapers are in tune with the current trend of wall décor and some of the collection’s star performers that graced the walls of the Brera District were none other than patterns such as the 2107 Mille Jeux, designed by Gianpaolo Pagni, Les Carreaux and Les Cabanes, and the iconic Promenade au Faubourg (collection 2016) by architect and illustrator Nigel Peake.

Moreover, the wallpapers were situated just steps away from La Pelota where the Maison’s main presentation of its latest homewares took place. Since the brand began participating in Salone del Mobile in 2011 it has staged some of the most magnificent exhibitions. This year certainly didn’t fall short of expectations. Situated within a white brick pavilion reminiscent of a rustic cottage somewhere out in the desert of New Mexico, the latest set of new objects masterminded by the co-deputy artistic directors of its home universe – Charlotte Macaux Perelman and Alexis Fabry – centered around the Lien d’Hermès, highlighting a signature motif that binds the 180-year-old Maison to its equestrian origins as a saddle maker. Inside the white brick was an ever-pleasing myriad of design objects created by the in-house and external talents team.

An exhibition view featuring Mille Jeux wallpaper

The new collection included a multitude of items such as a lacquered wood and leather trays as well as boxes in a different shades displayed at various levels. There were whimsical objects typical of the Maison’s playful world such as the Perpetual Calendar comprising bridle leather straps – evoking once again the idea of a harness. Similarly, there is also the Lien d’ Hermès coat hanger made in brick bridle leather and palladium-finish brass designed by Studio Hermès in collaboration with Guillaume Delvigne and Damian O’Sullivan. There was also the ‘Karumi’ triangular and square bamboo stools evoking obvious Asian references to ideas of minimalism and simplicity. It comes with removable cushions in fawn and was designed by architect Alvaro Siza.

Seemingly a departure for the brand and entering the realm of the sculpturally bold was the Aes Coffee Table in cast bronze by Barber & Osgerby for Hermès. The purist, precise lines of this take echo the simplicity found throughout the Maison’s creations. However, its bronze medium that has been cast from one mould offers a poignant and strong addition to the Hermès home. And it is displayed beautifully in the exhibition amidst a small rectangular pool and juxtaposed with the brand’s new Tie-Set Porcelain collection with illustrations by Philippe Mouquet floating on either side as if they had become lily pads in an elegant French garden. The architecture of the exhibition framed the space in such a way so that the light reflected cast more shapes along the way accentuating further the already evocative presentation.

Aes Coffee Table in cast bronze by Barber & Osgerby; on either side are pieces from the Tie-Set Porcelain collection by Philippe Mouquet 

“This year what was pivotal for us was to place each object in way that offered it the same importance,” says Perelman. “We focused a lot on little details as well as on the notion of equilibrium.” A feeling of calm and purity permeates the exhibition; it doesn’t feel disjointed in the least – while certainly diverse in make-up and material, the parts work effortlessly together as a whole. “It was important for us to give the idea of harmony to the collection,” says Fabry. “There is no hierarchy. We wanted to strike an equilibrium between the various elements.” From the textiles and leather goods to the micro-motifs on porcelain objects – there is always, as Fabry notes, a precision that underlines the importance not only of each object, but also of the craftsmanship of the Maison. Leather certainly abound, here in this latest collection it acted in its innate way – like a glue, uniting the plethora of wonderful materials that give Hermès home its very essence. 

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