How do you give each Hermès store its own character when the brand has such a distinctive aesthetic? “We always start by designing the space, then the fittings. This attitude is also in the Hermès DNA; there is no repetition. We carry forward signature Hermès aesthetics, adding a touch of the vernacular, like bamboo, to reflect the context.”
How did you create a sense of coherence in the three-storey, 9,167 sq ft Hong Kong flagship? “We think of the store as a building, with its own soul and volume. Here, the structure was already complex, with many concrete columns of different sizes, so we took advantage of that crowding to create the sense of many rooms. You don’t feel like you are in a big store because it is very intimate.”
You’ve used a lot of bamboo. Were you not worried that it would be perceived as cheap? “We were thinking about materials that are local, Chinese, not necessarily Hongkongese. We wanted a bamboo facade but the building authorities told us it is not a ‘proper’ construction material so we had to use aluminium. We decided to use bamboo as much as possible inside with, for example, flooring, the staircase, or reflecting the pattern on rugs. Bamboo is a simple material but it can look luxurious.”
The facade allows a lot of natural light into the store. How does this fit within your design concept? “Natural light changes things, especially your relationship to the city. If you have no sense of where you are, it’s scary. Here, the store facade is not fully open so you have a feeling of being part of the life of the city, with its trams and buses, but with a degree of privacy.”
The materials and colour palette are subtle. How do you keep it from becoming uniform and neutral? “If you walk through the shop, you may notice the palette subtly changes from pale rose and coffee in the men’s section to muted champagne tones upstairs.
“They are versatile colours because they change with natural and artificial light. Even in the fine jewellery salon there is a feeling of ‘non-colour’ because we wanted an exclusive setting without using gold. Refined materials do not need to shout, ‘I am unique!’”