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interview: Hermès encloses new home collections in transparent iron rod installation in milan

Sep 03, 2023Sep 03, 2023

For Milan Design Week 2023, Hermès harmonizes colors and furniture with iron rods and concrete. The ensemble inquires about the power of the fundamental through a series of furniture and home collection. Displayed at La Pelota in via Palermo 10 from April 19th to 22nd, the visitors are guided through a meandering journey in an exhibition of rugs, chairs, and lamps enclosed in iron rods while softened by the polished look of concrete.

In an interview with designboom, artistic directors of Hermès Maison Charlotte Macaux Perelman and Alexis Fabry let us in on the idea behind the presentation. Perelman says that the show's idea centers on harmony. ‘It springs up to your eyes,’ Perelman tells designboom. ‘What we want to concentrate upon is the harmony of color. Alexis and I are the guarantors of this particular concept because each object is to be seen separately and, at the same time, mixed up together. They have to go hand in hand color-wise.’

image © Maxime-Verret, courtesy of Hermès | video © designboom

Fabry adds that there are two key ideas they took into consideration for the direction of the exhibition. ‘The first one is that everything is a continuum, like a soft thread. For the first time this year, we have tried to create a space where all the objects can talk to each other and talk to the space as well. And I believe that looking at it, one can visually perceive it,’ says Fabry.

‘The second idea, which is what Charlotte did, is devising this particular structure, the box that has to converse with the objects inside. Having stripped out everything around the building, we kept the metal skeleton and the rods. The idea is that we have retained the structure and the backbone, and this is something that is typical of the will that we wanted to express this year.’

image © Maxime-Verret

Studio Hermès taps and collaborates with designers Cecilie Manz, Pierre Charpin, Harri Koskinen, Jasper Morrison, Jochen Gerner, Tristan Bonnemain, and Fanette Mellier to unfurl the narrative that springs from the power of the fundamental. Hermès treats the iron rods surrounding the space as patterns that structure and generate forms. The mesh of poles converses with the visitors, urging them to peek through the grids and teasing them to reach through the barriers to touch, or at least graze, on the coveted items on display.

‘Since the objects are so colorful, I wanted to be able to give the idea of richness and volume in our objects as well as to contour them with an architectural idea. I believe in the relationship between what is empty and what is full, with what is full being the object and the emptiness being the structure around them. And that's what I craved, a transparent structure that could focus on the objects as well,’ Perelman shares with designboom.

‘I had fun using these rods, which are usually hidden by concrete in real construction. I wanted to show the materiality of iron and, particularly, rust, which is also a sign of the time. It was a question of exposing something that is usually hidden,’ Perelman continues. ‘For instance, our chair here has many details which cannot be seen but are as important as the object outside itself. We have springs in the chair that you can't see, and I believe that was particularly important to convey.’

image © designboom

For the Maison, strength, an element of the foundation, is asserted through subtraction. Carpets cascade from the poles, showcasing the simplicity of their geometric design and earthy hues. Chairs eliminate excessive features to make way for subdued eloquence in functionality. Lamps glow in tinted globes, projecting accumulated water that becomes repressed and held. The recent homeware series of the Maison has become a platform for Hermès to express its definition of multifaceted beauty.

‘We choose the people we work with based upon aesthetics,’ says Perelman. ‘It comes first followed by the various ideas that we may develop. We tend to have the same view when we collaborate together – it is a team effort. When it comes to our relationship with external designers, so to say, people who do not work in-house, we want to understand each other as much as possible. For instance, there is a peculiarity when it comes to this designer who works with us, Cecilie Manz.

We wanted to have a Scandinavian armchair where leather could be structural. We decided to work with her because she understood immediately what we required and the idea that we had about it. She is a designer who works in association, putting together different materials, and that's what we asked her to do. Sometimes, we let the designer work without a specific brief, but each object and case is different.’

image © designboom

Hermès weaves archaism, vigor, and minimalism into tangible forms of furniture. It locks in the designers’ and its own creations within the geometric framework composed of iron rods and concrete to allude to an interplay between what is radical and powerful. The virtuoso within the artisans comes forth as their know-how gives life to abstract elements.

Harri Koskinen has blown glass to explore its materiality and comes up with the minimalist forms of Souffle d’Hermès lamps. The seating designs put textiles in the limelight through Contour d’Hermès sofa, blending well with Jasper Morrison's sheather-leather chair and Cecilie Manz's Ancelle d’Hermès armchair in solid wood.

Graphic lines and shapes converge with emblematic, and at times vibrant, colors in Pierre Charpin's rugs, hand-embroidered to identify the precise placement of a cotton cord embedded into a linen base. Such undulating color splashes lend their presence in Jochen Gerner's Saut Hermès Porcelain tableware as his fresh, spontaneous illustrations drawn freehand in felt tip pen decorate each piece.

In an interview with designboom ‘everything is a continuum’ asserting strength through subtraction