Cabinet of Curiosities

We talked to Godefroy de Virieu, Petit h's Creative Director, a project by Hermès.
14 / 09 / 2018
For more information, visit Hermès website.
Photography: Iciar. J. Carrasco
 
It’s through the constant dialogue between artists and materials, combined with the emblematic know-how of the French maison, that Hermès has found the formula for sustainable success. Petit h, Hermès’ experimental lab, focuses on the development of unique and functional pieces, traveling the world to show the brand most creative side. Until 29th September, the project settles on the first floor of the French store in Chiado, in Lisbon, presenting a truly cabinet of curiosities thought by Godefroy de Virieu, creative director of the project, in collaboration with the artist Joana Astolfi.

What are the main benefits, for such a renowned brand like Hermès, of petit h project?
Pascale Mussard, who started the Petit h project in 2010, wanted to bring together in just one place all the Hermès’ ‘savoir-faire’ and several artists, who work with different materials that currently are not being used by the brand. It’s this proximity, this constant dialogue between artisans and the materials, that benefits the creation of unique pieces, that are also and mainly, functional and useful pieces. Petit h’s specificity is to have an horizontal vision. Hermès is composed by different areas, like leather, jewellery, watchmaking, silk, crystal, porcelain, among many others, and each area has developed its own vision. Petit h’s idea is to marry materials that are not usually used together, like crystal and leather, for example. Petit h is a creative and experimental lab inside Hermès. The project enriches the house’s heritage and meets new know-how, not only in France but worldwide, in order to create new typologies of objects and new applications.



 
 
Lisbon’s history, as a city of discoveries and navigators, influenced the scenario created on the first floor of the store?
When petit h caravan moves to those short sales, we want to tell a new story related to this new country. In my opinion, Lisbon evokes the travellers, explorers. That’s why we decided to create a treasure chest, a cabinet of curiosities with the help of the artist Joana Astolfi. The creations we developed are also linked to the country, specially with the cork objects, an emblematic material in Portugal. It is important to us to cross this local know-how with the different ‘savoir-faire’ of petit h.

What kind of unique objects pieces can one find here?
The most important is to be able to share petit h’s unique experience and to make it visible. To express the creative processes, surprise and make people dream. To talk about Hermès in a different way. In Lisbon, for example, we associate the project with a Portuguese iconic material – the cork that we complemented with the leather in order to create pieces of furniture and home ware. I like to see people smile when we present a salt shaker made with a small glass of alcohol from Saint Louis and button of a jacket that becomes a dosing device. Those kind of objects can be related to anyone!

Why this name, petit h?
When Pascale Mussard wanted to create the petit h project, the name petit h was imposed. “Petit” (Small) because petit h is a small structure and very agile housed inside the Hermès group, the big house.