Picture for a moment an Airbus A319, with a 36m wing span and 24m-long cabin, a wide-body jet usually configured with between 124 and 156 seats. Then think of the same cabin with just 17 single seats, two three-seater sofas and one four-seater sofa. One sofa, in the bedroom, converts to a full-sized bed.
The seats are completely redesigned over an existing metal frame that allows them to recline fully to flat beds, are immaculately upholstered in Hermès leather and fabrics, and feature a flush pocket detail to take a tablet or a magazine.
This private jet is no fantasy. The design, build and finish of its seats, sofas, lighting and interior textiles is the latest commission of a special department within Hermès, known as Hermès Horizons.
Hermès’ more usual special orders – for its bags, small leather goods, clothing, saddles and harnesses – are handmade at its workshops at 24 Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris. But out in Pantin, north-east of the city centre, in a vast hangar-like space that used to be for film sets, and near the brand’s Cité des Métiers Hermès workshops, a 30-strong team of designers, engineers and craftsmen build and deliver dreams.
A horse has galloped at the heart of Hermès since 1837, when the very first bespoke harnesses and saddles were produced. While equestrian requisites remain ever popular, the transport of choice for people on the move today is more likely to be by road, air or sea. So Hermès now provides a fully bespoke and highly specialist service in automotive, aeronautical and nautical design, offering unique interiors and finishing.
Recent commissions include the interior of an Aston Martin DB4, a streamlined 1936 C28 Aerosport Avion-Voisin, a Falcon 7X and another A319 last year, a 26m Wally motor yacht, a speed boat and a yacht tender and, my personal favourite, the fit-out of a pair of low-tech and relatively low-key 12m wooden-hulled beach boats, currently being used to idle away summer days in the Mediterranean. Once the design is complete, Hermès’ team liaises with the client’s own boat builders, airline manufacturers or the aeronautic finishing centres.
Until recently, Hermès collaborated with specialist partners to create limited series. It worked with Wally on the Why Wally Hermès Yacht; Smart on the Fortwo édition Toile car; Eurocopter on the Hélicoptère par Hermès; and Yamaha on the Yamaha VMAX by Hermès. But today the focus is on truly bespoke commissions. Hermès acts as creator, engineer and artisan – you bring the dream. Just don’t forget the credit card.
As originally featured in the June 2016 issue of Wallpaper* (W*207)