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Hermès etches signature braids on tressages équestres

hermès at Tressages équestres for milan design week

In the case that Milan Design Week 2024Hermès is launching a new tableware collection, Tressages équestres, inspired by the rich patterns of the horse world. From dinner plates to bowls, the designs bear the imprints of the house‘s distinctive, interwoven cotton and leather threads – an ode to the hand of the craftsman, but also to the horse, the rider and the ties that bind them. Tressages équestres mainly recalls the passementerie and the wickerwork used in making armor, which is the origin of the house. ‘Each new collection is a way to tell a new story, to refer to our heritage.’ Benoit Pierre Emery, creative director of La Table Hermès, tells design tree.

interview - Hermès etches its signature wickerwork onto the latest tableware during Milan Design Week
all images © Matthieu Lavanchy

a subtle mix of figurative and abstract representations

This latest tableware from Hermès, designed under the name artistic direction by Benoit Pierre Emery, offers a subtle mix of figurative and abstract representations. It consists of twenty-seven pieces, including ten new hollow pieces, and is designed to complement kitchens from around the world. The ubiquitous kaolin white of the porcelain is a perfect showcase for French artist Virginie Jamin’s drawing designs. Her lines – fine or dense, but always precise – give volume to the textures they illustrate. Spicy colors of lemon and mint contrast with petrol blue and the natural tones of fibers and leather. By playing with scale, the motifs differ from piece to piece. Each combination of objects is balanced, creating as many stories as there are compositions. Read on as designboom delves into the house’s new and vibrant tableware collection with Benoit Pierre Emery and Virginie Jamin.

interview - Hermès etches its signature wickerwork onto the latest tableware during Milan Design Week
Tressages équestres, a new tableware collection

interview with Benoit Pierre Emery and Virginie Jamin

designboom (DB): Can you discuss the inspiration behind the Tressages équestres collection and how does it relate to Hermès’ heritage?

Benoit Pierre Emery (BPE): Each new collection is a way to tell a new story and reference our heritage. With this collection we especially wanted to pay tribute to the craftsmanship and beauty of objects related to the horse world. We have also wanted to work with Virginie for some time. I have always admired her creations. She has worked for the house for almost 20 years and designs many beautiful scarves, always with this incredible talent for bringing objects to life in very graphic ways and translating an archive.

Virginie Jamin (ZG): I like to bring Hermès objects back to life because they are rich in history and craft. I want to express them in my way, abstractly and through a story. I think abstraction makes objects more accessible because it offers a more universal language – something that is both timeless and spaceless. I really liked the modular structure of braided shapes; everything here revolves around details and repetition. By starting with a small detail and through repetition you can create a whole world, and I especially enjoyed playing with that. There were so many braid options, and I could have made many more pieces if I wanted to. It’s a great mix of simplicity and complexity.

interview - Hermès etches its signature wickerwork onto the latest tableware during Milan Design Week
inspired by passementerie and wickerwork used in making armor

BPE: We keep all previous collections in an archive place called the Conservatory. We go there often; most designers and art directors go there regularly. The idea is to draw inspiration from the archive and build a story from it. One of the first objects we saw together was this beautifully crafted riding belt; it’s important because you don’t see it. It is a strap that is placed under the horse to ensure the safety of the rider as it holds the saddle to the horse. Despite being hidden, it still presents itself with a beautiful design – well crafted and made with so much detail and attention that really reflects the feel and feel of Hermès. Using this belt as a starting point, we went through many other elements from the equestrian world to complete and create this vocabulary of shapes and geometric elements, ultimately putting together a series of 27 tableware pieces.

VJ: We also wanted to celebrate the purity of porcelain and create space to play with food. The new and very pure forms of the dining furniture were perfect to celebrate and express this kind of simplicity and space, to play with the designs and make these objects your own – to experience each piece differently every time you use it. This collection is a step-by-step process; it is about discovering something through doing, which is a reference to craftsmanship. It’s part of the magic because you start out surprised and want to try to recreate that surprise for others.

interview - Hermès etches its signature wickerwork onto the latest tableware during Milan Design Week
the patterns are drawn by Virginie Jamin

DB: How did you approach the balance between preserving Hermès’ traditional craftsmanship and bringing modern elements into the collection?

BPE: It was a long process, with many discussions, adjustments and meetings. We had to find the right balance and the right tone to create something that is both contemporary and timeless. The colors are probably the most modern aspect of the collection as they add some sort of kick and twist, but the overall designs are made to last a while, at least 10-15 years. maybe even 20. You could probably pass the collection on to the next generation. We tried to make it as simple and pure as possible, but the switch to porcelain was our biggest challenge. Transferring is a complex process with many technical problems, arguments and details. It takes a lot of courage and patience. The prototypes are always cool to look at, but the ambition for quality is so high. We push ourselves every time and the artisans in the studio are fantastic because they do their best to translate an artist’s work and put it on porcelain.

interview - Hermès etches its signature wickerwork onto the latest tableware during Milan Design Week
porcelain white shapes, each printed with unique motifs from the horse world

DB: How does the translation process work?

BPE: When we received the final artwork from Virginie, we passed it on to a first studio that translated the drawings and analyzed them in different colors; it was a very long process. We then printed them on a transfer film; they had to be printed in a certain way. In the meantime, we developed the colors, which was just as challenging because we limited ourselves to specific components, such as cobalt. Even though the palette has been reduced in recent years, I think we continue to achieve excellent results. In another studio we continued the development of white shapes and designs. In total we have three workshops that operate simultaneously: one for shapes, one for engraving, coloring and printing, and a third that deals with transferring the print to the porcelain.