Trust Hermès’s petit h to create the most delightfully unexpected yet useable items from castaway materials so covetable and collectible.
The ubiquitous red plastic chair, usually found in Singapore kopi tiams, is the last thing one would associate with an elegant luxury French maison. But come 22 November 2019, collectors in the Lion City will be able to get their hands on the scarlet seat… in the form of a charm (repurposed from discarded leather) on a cord (remnants of silk from Hermès iconic scarves) when travelling showcase petit h: A Creation in Reverse swings into town for a short sojourn.
The incongruous pairing best embodies the tongue-in-cheek (or should we say chic?) soul of petit h.
From materials – including glass and porcelain – that Hermès ateliers have no further use for, designers, artisans and specialists from various creative disciplines dream up and bring to life whimsical yet usable objects d’art. It is the very nature of castaway materials that makes each object so desirable: like fingerprints, no two items are ever exactly alike, and each one is produced in very limited numbers. Then there is the effort required to get your hands on them. Diehard fans are known to follow the petit h exhibitions that travel to two to three cities for a short spell each year. (It is only the second time that petit h is dropping into Singapore; the first was in 2013.) The other alternative is to make a pilgrimage to the Hermès store at 17 rue de Sèvres in Paris.
The line was founded in 2010, long before sustainability became fashionable, by Pascale Mussard, the eldest of the sixth generation of the Hermès family. But even earlier as a young child, Mussard was already saving unwanted scraps of leather, silk, buttons and zippers from the Hermès workshops, and giving them a new life, with the help of master craftsmen whom she often saw in her dining room. petit h is now under the artistic direction of Godefroy de Virieu.
The collection coming to Singapore has something quirky for everyone, from the fledgling collector to the woman who really doesn’t need yet another Birkin bag. And what a colourful riot of unexpected hybrids one can look forward to.
A bag on legs (one with a webbed foot)!
A basketball hoop of bullcalf and silk!
A beech stool with a seat that’s really a storage box trimmed with bullcalf and porosus crocodile, complete with a Kelly clasp!
Prefer something wearable? Look to pendants of terrazzo – encrusted with discarded Hermès hardware of metal locks, mother-of- pearl buttons and brass – on ties of calfskin.
The red plastic chair mentioned earlier is part of a collection of items specifically made for Singapore. These include pigs in luxurious materials like leather and mink (a nod to the current Chinese Zodiac character), and a clutch in wicker and leather (recalling gift baskets of old).
The petit h creations will be presented at the Hermès store on Orchard Road, which will be dressed to echo Singapore’s extravagance as a garden city. Singaporean industrial designer, Olivia Lee, was handpicked by petit h Creative Director, Godefroy de Virieu, to lend her vision to the event’s scenography. In one space, the visitor moves around a planet populated by organic forms, a reservoir of materials, continuing into a second area that feels like a futuristic workshop, with a bright light passing through.
Catch the petit h: A Creation in Reverse from 22 November to 15 December 2019 at Hermès, Liat Towers, 541 Orchard Road. After Singapore, petit h journeys to the Hermès store in Moscow for a residence from 6 to 22 March 2020. We bring you some highlights here.
Editor’s note: this feature has been edited to include imagery of the installation, by Jovian Lim, courtesy of Hermès.
Images courtesy of Hermès, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.