Four simple saddle stitches transform a piece of supple bridle leather into a desk accessory or change tray. A dreamcatcher is stripped back to its bare essentials to become a circle of maple wood separated into quadrants for storing ties (pictured). An old-school, three-tiered sewing box is reimagined into a jaunty red coffer for precious scarves. And a cylindrical stool made from lightweight cork is enveloped in pinched, burnished leather.
Hermès’s 2018/19 home collection serves up all the French maison’s hallmarks. It is understated yet playful, colourful yet quiet. As Hermès learnt long ago, why shout if a whisper will do?
A necklace bust dubbed Vis-à-vis is a nod to the brand’s humble beginnings as a saddle- and harnessmaker in the late 1830s (as the company still proudly points out, for more than half its existence, its only customer was the horse). This equestrian heritage is constantly being referenced – in the case of Vis-à-vis, by drawing inspiration from traditional instruments used to adjust horse harnesses.
A deep-seated curiosity about the world has also been a cornerstone of the brand since it was founded by intrepid traveller and collector Emile Hermès. In the new home collection, this manifests itself in an addition to the Karumi line of seating – a bench that celebrates the lightness of bamboo and technical innovation of Japanese master craftsmen, but is crowned with a seat of cashmere, in a tartan-inspired motif by artist Nigel Peake.
A sense of whimsy permeates A Walk in the Garden, a set of plates that takes its cues from nature. Here, Peake “let his pencil glide, freehand, from shrub to pathway”. Uplifting hues of bright orange, leaf green, buttercup and Prussian blue are worked into compositions that see twigs, leaves and grass shoot up through latticed, chequered and herringbone motifs.
These are just some of the pieces on show at the Hermès Species of Spaces exhibition at The Dubai Mall until November 17. The first floor of the brand’s store in the mall’s Fashion Avenue has been transformed into an installation that features furniture, home accessories, tableware, fabrics and wallpapers. Created by Charlotte Macaux Perelman and Alexis Fabry, who are both artistic directors of Hermès Maison, the installation has already travelled to Taipei and, after Dubai, will move on to Seoul.
“Colours give objects identity, they animate surfaces with character. Hermès has celebrated colour since 1837; its heritage is composed of infinite hues,” says the brand in its description of the installation. As such, the unfussy lines of the home collection are presented against a backdrop of softly coloured, oversized geometric patterns, creating a joyful jumble of striking shapes.
“Hermès Species of Spaces gives voice to the objects, with all their varying scales, and the know-how behind them,” says Macaux Perelman. “Each one reveals its soul within this immersive experience of colour and form. Our installation conveys several values: the furniture that expresses rigour, and fantasy through textiles, wallpaper and porcelain. We know more rigour than fantasy at Hermès; that’s why we wanted an installation that brings colour and lightness, and the idea of play and construction.”