French finesse
Hermès Maison at Palazzo Serbelloni
Apr 23, 2014

Hermès Maison held court like a king when presenting its new furniture and luminaire collection in Palazzo Serbelloni. The choice of this 18th-century Baroque gem, where Napoleon and Josephine overnighted can’t have been a coincidence.

Select exclusivity was already evidenced by the invite – printed on the most refined of paper. Anyone who got past the too-beautiful-to-be-true security personnel could then waft their way up the stairs to the antechambers to indulge in a taste of the glory to come: Behind a backlit glass wall with a floral pattern a scene unfolded that must have come like precious ink to the poet’s pen. You could reside on a recliner consisting of a wooden frame spanned with wooden belts and contemplate literature housed on a small bureau next to it. Light was shed by portable leather-clad luminaires: “La Lanterne d’Hermès” by light artist Yann Kersalé, which can be divided into three sections and is reminiscent of a lighthouse watchman who does the last round at night.

This room would itself have sufficed to fire our dreams, but things went further. In a marvelous hall dripping in paintings and candelabras Hermès Maison presented armchairs and sofas, luminaires and cupboards, including the new Jean-Michel Frank re-editions. An armchair, a bench and a side table expand the collection re-issued in 2010 of items by the French furniture designer who during World War II fled the Nazis for the States. All the items catch the eye with their superlative leather, high-grade workmanship, and elegant shapes. There’s the cupboard just for drinks, another just for shoes – Napoleon and Josephine would have loved them. The only downside: Large parts of the palazzo were covered by a wooden structure that constituted a stage for the products. How much nicer it would have been to view the new “Pantographe” and “Harnais” luminaires by Michele de Lucchi or Philippe Nigro’s “Nécessaires d’Hermès” in the original interior here. At this point, like the lighthouse watchman, we left the palazzo, headed out into the balmy Milan evening, while our thoughts harkened back to those idle hours of pleasure that could be spent in the place that had evolved from such daring dreams. (bw)