Wednesday night, Florence Lafarge, creative director of the Hermès home textiles collection, allowed guests to do something that’s never been done before in a Hermès store—and probably nowhere outside of a child’s playroom. They dipped large, block stamps in brightly-colored inks, and pressed them to the store walls.
The interactive installation, titled “WHITE CANVAS,” is up at the Madison Avenue flagship (691 Madison Ave.) through Saturday, November 18, and is a kickoff to Maison Universe’s new collection, which focuses on furnishing fabrics and wallpapers designed by the Italian illustrator and graphic designer, Gianpaolo Pagni.
“The idea for this exhibition was to showcase the Maison Universe in a fun and creative way,” explained Lafarge, who is the orchestrator behind the concept. “And the idea of the white canvas is to allow people to come into a space that is empty and ready for creation. It’s to break the distance between the customer and the design; they use the stamp as a tool for language.”
Pagni, whose chosen medium is paper, was inspired by the traditional method of wallpaper created with such wooden stamps, which were pressed into a repetitive pattern to make a unique, imperfect design. While his new graphic patterns, which are prominent throughout the installation, are not created with physical stamp prints, the repetitive design is key.
“Pagni’s technique, the concept of repeating patterns, is very adaptable to textiles and wallpapers,” said Lafarge. “The patterns are simple, but when replicated it makes something new and unbelievable.” A perfect example of this is the reversible, wool jacquard curtain fabric called Briques, which begins with a simple Hermès “H,” and when duplicated, creates a pattern akin to a brick wall.
Another noticeable aspect of the new collection is its use of bright, primary colors: red, blues, and yellows that remind Lafarge of a child’s watercolor set. “It represents the spirit of Hermes,” she said, “playful and light.” With such a foundational color scheme, the collection becomes very functional, with objects like the bright, lacquered wood boxes speaking to the racing green change trays, and to the colorful Mille Jeux wallpaper. The pieces are different, but the tone is the same, the color range transversal.