One of the most carefully considered and well-executed design projects during Milan's Salone del Mobile came quite unexpectedly from the creative oven of a fashion brand. The design offering at Hermès, discreetly yet powerfully percolating for the last three years, came to an exciting tipping point this year as the French luxury maison beefed up its fabric and wallcovering collection, added a novel bespoke range and introduced a new collaboration with industrial designer Philippe Nigro.
Though the in-house-designed bespoke range possesses a high-end James Bond lustre (specifically, a walk-in wardrobe hidden by saddle-stitched bullcalf door panels that are operated by remote control), the real statement was made on Nigro's new eight-piece collection of furniture entitled 'Les Nécessaires d'Hermès.'
Each piece, from low benches and puffy square-shaped stools to stackable sidetables and decorative screens, features compact dimensions and a clever air of multi-functionality. 'The idea was not to create huge star furniture, but rather to create things that could easily travel within the interiors of any home,' says the French-born, Milan-based designer.
Though he's produced well-received designs for furniture brands such as De Padova, Ligne Roset, and Poltrona Frau, this is the first time the designer has created a full range collection and his first dance with a luxury goods house proved to be more than satisfying.
'It was a fabulous experience both with the project scope and also the way their company works,' Nigro gushes. 'I couldn't believe how great the materials were.'
Nigro put Hermès' impeccable craftsmanship to work on exquisite pieces such as a 1.9m tall steel Valet that is covered in solid walnut and features sturdy leather accessories trays and a mirror, or on a multi-purpose leather covered chest that cracks open to reveal endless pockets for organizing reading materials and computers.
'There's hidden functionality in each piece,' says Nigro, referring to the rotating round drawers that swivel under little walnut tables with leather tops or pop up and out from a long leather and wood bench. And of course, there's more than a few subtle nods to the French Maison itself, like on the square pouf stools whose 90 x 90 cm dimensions perfectly match the size of a classic Hermès foulard.