A giant orange, geometric calfskin bookcase may best embody Hermès designer (and great-great-great-granddaughter of Thierry Hermès) Pascale Mussard’s goals in creating Hermès' up-cycled collection of one-of-a-kind objects known as Petit h. Mussard was often teased for her hoarding as a child, but now her insatiable desire to save and reuse has led to a line of new goods made from the left-over and discarded luxury materials found in the family's factories.
The Petit h motto is “We don’t throw anything away!” and perfectly illustrates how the various materials Mussard has squirreled away have now found new lives as furniture, accessories and objets d'art made by artisans from the Hermès ateliers. Whether it's leftover leather that's been cut away during the manufacturing of a Birkin bag, a defective button, previous seasons' fabrics that are in perfect condition but no longer part of the current Hermès designs—anything and everything can find its place in the Petit h collection. “This is a different way to look at things. Creation generally means you have an idea and your look for the materials. For me it is the reverse," Mussard tells CH.
When searching through all these materials, Mussard asks, “What can we invent? How can we innovate? Can we transform it? I think it is the values of Hermès.” That curiosity and desire for exploration and innovation is in her genes. During a trip to Canada, Mussard's great-grandfather wrote a letter to his wife saying that he saw two ribbons with steel teeth. “They were zippers,” Mussard explains. He decided to stay longer and buy the patent. At the time they were only using them at that time for the large bags for missile heads, but he had the idea to put them on pants.
Mussard credits her family’s ability to look at things from other angles, and Petit h has become her tribute to the treasure-hunters and craftspeople. When asked about the blue boat with silk sails, Mussard smiles: this particular object evokes a special childhood memory in Paris. As young girls, she and her sisters loved watching the little boats in the Luxembourg Garden float in the fountain. To create the Petit h boats, designer Godefroy de Virieu contacted the reticent boat-maker from the park and he agreed to fashion the shape. Then Hermès craftspeople added the luxurious leather, details, and flowing silk sails—and the result is unique and entirely romantic.
We have been brought up in an incredible family that taught us how to see beauty in the everyday.
Mussard relishes her own role as a treasure-hunter, and bringing the Hermès team together to create the Petit h designs. “If you have the luck to make your dreams come true, there is no better thing. If you see a smile from others, it is incredible. We have been brought up in an incredible family that taught us how to see beauty in the everyday. Creating makes us feel alive," she says. Describing her journey to convince the Hermès family and designer and craftspeople to see her vision and want to be part of Petit h, Mussard smiles again, “I didn’t know I had so much tenacity; I discovered myself.”
Petit h creations are on sale for a limited time around the world in Hermès stores including—for the first time—on the West Coast from 13 June to 29 June 2014 at Hermès in Costa Mesa, California. There, architects Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena created a 100-foot installation inspired by a cabinet of curiosities to showcase Petit h objects. In addition GuneWardena has created Sogetsu Ikebana arrangements for the concept shop that incorporate pieces of Hermès leather, fabric, and buckles.
Images courtesy of Hermès