French luxury brand Hermès chose the spectacular late 18th-century Palazzo Serbelloni in Milan as the atmospheric setting in which to launch the fourth edition of their “home universe” collection, Hermès en lumière, which includes lighting for the first time.
The installation, which took 10 days to build, occupied several rooms of the palazzo. Upon arrival guests were greeted with a stunning backlit panel of their new silk fabric, Jardin D’Osier Imprimé, the lush foliage of the design by Pierre Marie enriched by a verdant foreground of tropical plants and palms.
It was the soaring fresco-ceilinged space of the grand hall that was the tour de force of the exhibition however. Italian architect and designer Michele De Lucchi designed a contemporary intervention in the form of louvre-like timber panels, layered horizontally to arch up either side of the space. Inspired by the hull of a boat, but also venetian blinds, these were an effective backdrop for the lighting, with the interplay of light and shade on the horizontal slats adding drama and warmth to the space.
Hermès presented three LED lighting collections and although each was very different in form, all exhibited the brand’s DNA with finely crafted materials and frames elegantly wrapped in their signature leather. The Lanterne d’ Hermès was designed by the French light scenographer Yann Kersalé. A modular light with a rechargeable battery, it takes its cues from sailing or old carriage lamps, and can be used indoors or out.
Pantographe and Harnais, inspired by an architect’s drawing implement and Hermes’s equestrian heritage (with a nod to the organic forms of a tree) respectively, were both designed by Michele de Lucchi, whom Hélène Dubrule, managing director of Hermès Maison described as a “poet of lighting”.
“It’s just a small collection,” Dubrule explained, “but it’s very Hermès. It mingles innovation and the hi-tech with fine craftsmanship. The designers have really entered the world of Hermès.” The large articulated floor light, Lampadaire Arche, from the Pantographe range is particularly refined with its slender frame, double-dimmer system, and silk twill shade. It even features a leather-covered flex.
Also on display were new re-editions of a chair, console and bench by Jean-Michel Frank that were first designed with Hermès in 1926. Exhibiting an incredible lightness of poise, these artisan pieces are made from wrought iron and hand-patinated bridle leather and will be produced in a limited edition numbering between 50-100.
The brand’s collaboration with French designer Philippe Nigro continues apace in the form of the Curiosités d’ Hermès, a series of three furniture pieces inspired by the “cabinets of old” and created to “bring surprise and unexpected delight”. These are based around the indulgent daily rituals life such as taking care of one’s shoes, afternoon tea and cocktail hour. Created from exquisite materials, such as ebony-finished pear wood, graphite Porosus crocodile and ebony Bosphore horsehair in the case of the Club Bar, each of these pieces – which can be customised to a customer’s requirements – are likely to be priced in the region of £300,000.