From Hermès Birkin bag to home furnishings

by VIRGINIA LAU on Apr 17, 2012 in Interiors , Products
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Hermès’ new La Maison home furnishings line goes back to its heritage of craftsmanship

Attracting 15,000 visitors at the five-day Milan Salone 2011 — and now launched in Hong Kong —  the new Hermès home furnishings line has already received a strong welcome and visibility among industry professionals. “I think people found our approach to be quite different from what exists on the market in terms of quality, perfection, attention to detail, and the way we did it with this pavilion,” says Hélène Dubrule, general manager of Hermès La Maison. “Very spectacular, but calm.”

Like the iconic Birkin bag, each piece is meant to transcend time, conveying a sense of savoir faire, or know-how, of craftsmanship. They reinterpret the works of Jean-Michel Frank, who had collaborated with Hermès in the 1920s and ’30s. “In the 1920s, Jean-Michel was the French visionaire who completely reinvented furniture with a very modern approach,” says Dubrule.

“It was important to anchor the Hermès savoir faire in our heritage because we often look at the past to move forward. We had to go back to the source and find our artisans, craftsmen, and all the techniques to do this kind of furniture again.”

To provide a contemporary expression for the French visionaire’s work, artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas enlisted Enzo Mari, Antonio Citterio and Rena Dumas Architecture Intérieure (RDAI). Known for his method of underlining the essence of a project, Mari worked with Hermès to develop strong, pure lines using top quality materials. He highlights the desk’s core functionality by reducing it into a three-piece table.

The structure and base are made of Canaletto walnut, “the most noble wood that exists, with its flamed vein and warm brown colouring”, as Mari describes it. The tabletop is covered with smooth, bull calf leather. Accompanying the desk is an oval-shaped storage coffer that has been skilfully designed with a top that swivels around one of the legs. Inside, more hidden storage is covered by leather. “This is a great demonstration of know-how – upholstered leather, Canaletto walnut, and there is a marquetry piece, which shows all the beauty of the wood,” says Dubrule.

When it comes to pieces by Antonio Citterio, a concern for tradition can be seen. “He was very inspired by this tradition of usage and functional furniture, which is a French tradition – specific furniture for specific usage,” says Dubrule.

Re-examining the many varieties of chairs, he designed a reading chair and a long chair, the Amazone lounge chair, for Hermès. Citterio combines the rough with the sophisticated, pairing Inox with greyed oak and Clémence bullskin with fabrics. “First we want to sit, then to touch and to make the object live,” explains Citterio. The ‘X’ formed in his sofa and table legs recalls the nomadic origins of Egyptian or Greek folding stools, and is also a reminder of the Pippa collection of folding furniture conceived by Rena Dumas and Peter Coles in 1987.

Read the full story, ‘Luxury that transcends time’, in the May 2012 issue of Perspective magazine! 


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