Paris, October 2014 – One of the places to visit on my agenda was Hermès boutique in the Saint-Germain- des-Prés quarter. I usually like to just wander around the Left Bank area, but that morning, I made it my first destination.
One of the most intriguing facts is that the shop was constructed inside the famed Hotel Lutetia’s 1930s swimming pool. One cannot imagine the space within from looking at the shop’s discrete façade on Rue de Sèvres. Once inside, I plunged into the world of Hermès!
This time, it wasn’t the leather goods or silk scarves that captured my attention. It was the interior design – 9-meter high wooden huts made of ash laths , mosaic floors and the Art Deco wrought-iron friezes on the balustrades. I had to get a closer look.
The staircase from the entrance into the “pool” (or former pool area) draws the visitors to the level below. As I reached bottom of the stairs, I turned around and saw the sculpture of the Greek God, Hermès on a trotting horse towering over me. Spectacular!
Back up on the first level, I discovered a bookstore (la librairie). I was captivated by the sketchbooks by renowned children book’s illustrator and designer of Hermès carrés, Philippe Dumas (also 6th generation of the maison’s founding family).
Each book is bound in colorful paper and fabrics. The shop assistant informed me that the books will be sold as a box set in the near future, but for now, each book is sold separately. I couldn’t decide on one or several and bought all of them in the series.
I decided to take a little break for tea there and enjoy my new acquisitions, and found myself seated in the café, conveniently located next to the la librairie. The café is fittingly called “Le Plongeoir”, because plongeoir – means the plunge!
What a lovely, tranquil place to sit and admire Philippe Dumas’ beautifully drawn sketches. The 9 titles correspond to the annual design themes at Hermès – Les metamorphoses (2014), L’exotisme , 1988) Vivre la France (1989) La vie a L’air libre (1990), Voyage en extreme-orient (1991), La mer (1992), Vive le cheval (1993), Le soleil ((1994) and La route (1995).
Dumas’ sketches are reflections and observations from numerous objects collected by Émile Hermès (the grandson of Hermès’ founder). The collection of Émile Hermès is housed inside the private museum at 24, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré – the flagship and headquarters of Hermès. From studying his remarks and illustrations, one can have a greater appreciation of the history and inspiration behind the spirit of Hermès.
Before I sign off, I would like to draw your attention to this “petit” illustration …Happy faces are there when the book is right-side up, but when the book is flipped upside down, the angry faces become apparent. It is Dumas’ sketch of a drawing by London’s John Kay (hairdresser and comedian) from the 18th century.
Other articles you may enjoy: Hermès Little Room of Wanders, Singapore &
All photos were taken by Mrs. King.