Labours of Love

Hermès Works Its Magic On Leftover Materials

The Hermès petit h initiative sees scraps from the maison’s many métiers turned into beautiful, limited edition objects.

Hermès Works Its Magic On Leftover Materials

Leftover scrap materials are the unspoken casualties of the luxury world — of any product world, to be fair. Whether it is excess silk that was prepared for a specific purpose and left untouched, or small off-cuts of alligator leather left over from making handbags, these materials are usually discarded for lack of better use. Not so at Hermès.

In 2010, under the guidance of Pascale Mussard (a.k.a. the great-great-great-granddaughter of Thierry Hermès), Hermès created its now-beloved petit h (lowercase intentional) workshop, specifically to make use of the leftover, abandoned materials that result from Hermès’ different métiers. Today, petit h is led by Godefroy de Virieu, the workshop’s creative director who took over from Mussard last year.

Under petit h, inventive Hermès artists and artisans work together to transform the scrap materials into charming and playful objects, combining the base materials in a thousand and one different ways. The artisans must exercise their creative chops in a different way from normal; instead of creating a predetermined design, they must work backwards to create a clever composition based on the limited materials that they have available, whether it be silk, leather, metal, crystal, or horsehair. Improvisation, innovation, and a lot of ingenuity are essential.

A Hermès petit h genius at work.

Of course, given the nature of petit h, every object in the collection is a limited edition, and many are one of a kind — and every piece is unapologetically mischevious. Objects include a shaggy wire-framed dog whose “fur” is made entirely out of zippers, a fish-shaped bag, a series of leather stacking boxes zippered inside its own housing unit, and even a skateboard printed with the image of a bicycle — droll, no?

Zipper dog
The Hermès flagship on Rue du Sevrès in Paris is the only permanent home of the petit h.

Access to the petit h objects is usually extremely limited. The collection is permanently housed at the Hermès flagship on Rue du Sevrès in Paris, but only packs its saddlebags twice or three times a year to pitch its tent in a few lucky cities. Fortunately for us, Singapore is one of the hosts for the petit h teepee this year.

From 22 November to 15 December 2019, petit h will throw open its leather-bound gates at the Hermès flagship store in Liat Towers, where the public can lay their hands on cute animal-shaped brushes, leather hopscotch courts, and the world’s most luxurious basketball hoop — made out of leather and printed silk, of course.

Petit h has also made several products exclusively for the Singapore popup, including a clock crafted from blue patent alligator, an all-leather solitaire table game, and a bag on legs. Yes, a bag on legs.

Since we are talking about Hermès, just visiting the petit h popup itself is also bound to be an experience to behold. This time around, de Vireu has handpicked local industrial designer Olivia Lee — a long-time friend of Hermès — to create the petit h scenography. While what awaits within the space will remain a visual surprise, we hear that the entire store will be liberally decked out in greenery. Guess you will just have to visit to find out for sure.

The Hermès petit h popup will be in Singapore from 22 November to 15 December 2019. Find out more at the brand’s website, or simply head to its flagship at Liat Towers, 541 Orchard Road.

How about a game of solitaire?

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