by Lynn Byrne
Whenever my husband Larry is in a quandary about what gift to give me, I always hint strongly that you can never go wrong with Hermes. Sadly, he doesn’t always listen.
Larry thinks of Hermes as the land of scarves and fragrance. Despite my hints, he isn’t even aware of my total obsession with the firm’s avalon blanket, oblivious to my frequent sighs of longing. So I would guess that the chances of any item of Hermes’s La Maison Collection ever gracing my home are about as high as the chances that I will someday own a Birkin bag. Nil.
That doesn’t mean we all can’t enjoy a little eye candy. You know, just in the interest of research and developing our taste level. (Wink).
Hermes recently has made a huge investment in home furnishings. It is not just about those gorgeous blankets. Designers have been commissioned to create new designs as varied as fabrics, wallpaper, sofas, chairs, tables, and room dividers. The firm even has renovated a space that used to house an indoor swimming pool as their new flagship in Paris to showcase their home goods.
The core of Hermes’ home furnishings collection always has been the products of French Art Deco designer, Jean-Michel Frank, originally designed for Hermes more than 80 years ago. I have written about Frank’s influence on today’s furniture before. Hermes is the one place where you can buy a new piece by Frank. Since furniture created by Jean-Michel Frank during the Art Deco period can command in excess of $200,000, new pieces by Hermes might be more affordable for someone. (Anyone? Like all things Hermes, it is hard to find a price tag online. If you have to ask, it is not in your budget.)
Equally classic is Hermes’s version of campaign-style furniture, the Pippa collection of folding furniture designed by Greek architect Rena Dumas in the 1980′s. She had an in. Rena was married to the CEO of Hermes when she designed the Pippa pieces.
So what’s new?
Building on this strong foundation, Hermes has brought in Antonio Citterio, Enzo Mari, Nigel Peake and Shigeru Ban, among others, to expand on the home collection. Citterio has created pieces for the living room like the chaise and coffee table below. Mari has done a desk, chair, storage cabinet and marble dining table.
Hermes scarves and textiles from their archives are the launching pad for new wallpapers and textiles. In addition, illustrator Nigel Peake has hand drawn a new chic herringbone pattern (lower left).
Perhaps the most innovative new design in La Maison Collection is Module H, introduced at the 2012 Milan Design Week. Shigeru Ban designed Module H as an architectural element to create rooms within rooms. It can be used as a screen or room partition.
Although Ban’s design is true to brand by showcasing the iconic letter H, the modular system is quite a long way from scarves and blankets, demonstrating the wide breadth of Hermes’ commitment to home furnishings.
It will be interesting to learn how the luxury market reacts to Hermes’ increasingly diverse design portfolio. I am eagerly waiting to see if there are homes featured in editorial contexts showcasing La Maison Collection. Hello Elle Decor, Veranda and Architectural Digest; this means you.
Photo credits: First image from Home and Garden magazine. Hermes store images via trendland. Jean-Michel Frank product images via pursuitist and luxuo.com. Pippa furniture from here and here. Mari table image from stylepark. Citterio products via yatzer.com and designswelove.com. Wallpaper images by Mark D. Sikes blog. Module H images by designswelove.com and designboom.com. Logo image, yatzer.com. Last image, mine.