PEOPLE – CHARLOTTE MACAUX PERELMAN
Artistic Director of HERMÈS MAISON, who was in Singapore recently for the brand’s latest installation, ‘Through The Walls’.
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF HERMÈS MAISON CHARLOTTE MACAUX PERELMAN WAS RECENTLY IN SINGAPORE FOR THE BRAND’S LATEST INSTALLATION ‘ THROUGH THE WALLS’, A DELIGHTFUL PLAY OF CONTRASTS – PLAYFUL, AND SERIOUS – SET UP IN THE LIAT TOWERS STORE. WE SPEAK TO CHARLOTTE ABOUT HER ROLE IN HERMÈS MAISON, THE INSTALLATION, AND HER INSPIRATIONS.
H&D: HOW DID YOU BECOME AN ARCHITECT AND WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO IT?
Charlotte: I have always wanted to become an architect. I launched my first agency in New York in 2005 and then I opened a new branch in Paris in 2010. In November 2014, Hermès asked me to join the team as deputy artistic director alongside Alexis Fabry, in charge of the Hermès Home Universe, Hermès Sur Mesure, Saint Louis and Puiforcat. I was surprised because I am more of an architect than a designer. But I think that they liked my conviction and knew my deep feelings for objects and craftsmanship.
What I like about being an architect is the relationship you can have with spaces, lights and the environment, which I am very sensitive to. To me, the strongest monuments are the one linked to the environment. H&D: WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FOR YOUR WORK?
Charlotte: There is no limit to inspiration. It is everywhere. I get it from architecture, or designs, from today’s life, from photography, or exhibitions. The architect Luis Barragan is a great source of inspiration too. His minimalist work using vernacular material with colors and lights is amazing. It is essential and very close to what human beings need. I am also found of ceramics: there is a great Turkish artist AlevSiesbye, who is spending her life molding bowls. It is the same gesture over and over, but the material she is using is a living material, which is very inspiring. Finally, I also get inspiration from the artists, designers, and architects I meet through my activities outside of Hermès. They lead us to ideas which could fit into Hermès.
H&D: WALK US THROUGH A DAY AT HERMÈS MAISON IN YOUR SHOES.
Charlotte: With Alexis Fabry, we work closely with our team. It is not just about us; we have an entire team of designers standing behind us. What is important to keep in mind is that we share very similar beliefs, but at the same time, we also have differing aspects. We have different backgrounds and though we start with different points of view and perspectives, our conclusions are usually the same, which is mutually reinforcing.
H&D: SO IT’S A GROUP EFFORT?
Charlotte: Yes, team effort is what matters. We all want what is right for Hermès. We try to ask ourselves to right questions. There are no set patterns. Everything is the result of an open, collective effort. The relationship with craftsmen and their expertise is crucial in the elaboration of the objects. They are the ones, for instance, who know if or how we can use leather in the creation of the objects. If we create a piece, we can’t create it without them.
H&D: SO YOU DO THINK IT’S VERY IMPORTANT TO HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CRAFTERS?
Charlotte: Yes, Hermès stands for craftsmanship. In this regard we favour
traditional materials, for which of course we can also rely on our unique savoir-faire and a network of first-class workshops. So much energy has been put into the craftsmanship and the details of this collection.
H&D: WHAT WOULD SAY DEFINES ‘QUALITY’ WHERE HERMÈS IS CONCERNED?
Charlotte: Hermès is a house of quality and creation. With our collection for the home, we provide an art of living, an art of being, that embodies all the values of Hermès: noblest materials, authentic craftsmanship, bold creation, timeless elegance. Quality is the effort that goes into each detail. Our Karumi collection designed by Alvaro Siza is the perfect illustration of this idea: We first thought of using rattan but were forced to abandon that idea because rattan has too much flexibility. Bamboo, which is more robust, seemed better suited. But bamboo, in its traditional form, doesn’t bend! It took all the talent and inventiveness of a great Japanese master, combining his expert command of materials with innovative technology to achieve this remarkable feat, bamboo furniture of exceptional purity and lightness. This innovative technique, marrying tradition and high-tech, has enabled us to strengthen the bamboo while retaining its pure line.
H&D: IN TERMS OF DESIGN, WHAT QUALITIES MAKE A PIECE PERFECT FOR THE BRAND?
Charlotte: Materials, but also the strength of the design are what make a piece perfect. For example, the AES coffee table designed by Barber & Osgerby is cast in bronze, in a single-use mould. We chose to work with this ancestral material, bronze, because it requires a specific expertise that we wanted to explore. Bronze is an ancestral material but this table looks very contemporary. This coffee table has the look of a metal girder, powerfully structuring the space in which it resides. Behind its apparent austerity, this monolith indulges in some skillful illusions through the detail of the matt material and the waxed patina of its surface. We approached Barber & Osgerby for the strength of their minimalist design and their notion of innovative craftsmanship.
H&D: SO IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCING THE FEEL?
Charlotte: For us there is no hierarchy between the objects of the Home collection. All the objects, bigger or smaller are linked together, they are complementary. We believe that the relationship between the ensemble and the objects taken separately is fundamental. So it is about the balance of the general collection. For example, we feel that furniture should be more rigorous while textiles and wallpapers should be more about fantasy.
H&D: ON YOUR PERSONAL WORK – WHAT DO YOUR CLIENTS LOVE BEST ABOUT YOUR WORK?
Charlotte: People say that I have a great intuition for volumes and proportions. I want to create designs that last, that go beyond the moment and are at the same time anchored within it. I try to do timeless architecture.
H&D: WHAT WOULD BE THE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE FOR HOMEOWNERS LOOKING TO FURNISH THEIR OWN HOMES?
Charlotte: To me, a beautiful interior consists in harmony through eclecticism. Homeowners have to listen to themselves and not to be afraid of mixing furniture of different styles. To me, the best home is not a home entirely made by Hermès. Mix is important.
H&D: WHAT DO YOU THINK THE HERMÈS UNIVERSE ADDS TO THE HOME AND FURNISHING INDUSTRY?
Charlotte: Home living viewed by Hermès is a matter of spirit and atmosphere, where you carefully choose the objects you want to be surrounded by, for their quality, their beauty, their functionality and the pleasure they convey. We create objects with sense, and to do it we maintain close relationships between artists and handmade objects. This what makes us unique.
H&D: SAY SOMEONE TAKES A WALK INTO THIS SHOWROOM AND TAKES A LOOK AT THE COLLECTION. WHAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU WANT TO GO THROUGH THEIR MINDS?
Charlotte: This year, we mainly wanted to make every object of equal importance, whether it is a piece of furniture or a fabric. We want people to understand that our collection conveys a story between the pieces. We also want people to be surprised by the balance that exists between rigour and fantasy. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT WWW. HERMES. COM OR VISIT THE HERMÈS SHOWROOM IN PAVILION, 168 JALAN BUKIT BINTANG, KUALA LUMPUR.