Timeless Elegance

Hermès introduces a luxurious new line of furnishings for the home

We caught up with Hélène Dubrule, General Director of Hermès Maison, to discuss the company’s reissue of Jean-Michel Frank’s iconic line of furniture, plus its debut collection of fabrics, wallpapers and rugs—now available in Europe and in six U.S. cities: New York, Boston, Beverly Hills, Costa Mesa, San Francisco and Chicago.

Is the customer purchasing the Jean-Michel Frank furniture and Maison different from the customer who buys Hermès leather bags or ready-to-wear collections? The customers may be the same because they are compelled by the Hermès spirit that’s common to each métier. The Jean-Michel Frank collection will appeal not only to Hermès aficionados, but also to those searching for long-lasting objects of the finest quality with savoir faire. However, the commitment involved with purchasing furniture is more engaging, whereas ready-to-wear and accessories can be more of a coup de coeur.

How is Hermès able to appeal to customers throughout your global footprint? Steeped in respect for the past and enthusiasm for the future, Hermès has perpetuated the cult of beautiful materials crafted with excellence, the love of beautiful objects made to last, and the spirit to keep on making it new. 

What is the connection between Hermès and Jean-Michel Frank? Jean-Michel Frank, a major French designer of the Art Deco period who deeply changed the decoration style of the ’20s and ’30s, met a member of the Hermès family in 1924. He then asked our workshops to produce his creations. The collaboration lasted throughout his life. Two years ago, when we decided to further develop our home métier, we proposed to the Jean-Michel Frank family that we bring his creations to life again. On our side, we wanted to go back to the roots of our savoir faire, in furniture. Very often at Hermès, questioning the past provides you with keys for the future. Jean-Michel Frank creations resonate with the Hermès style because of this sense of pureness and essentiality that allows the beauty of the materials to speak for themselves. The Frank family gave Hermès the exclusivity of reissuing Frank’s creations, and we committed to do it in the most faithful way. Every piece is signed “Jean-Michel Frank by Hermès,” numbered and authenticated.

Explain the process of selecting the furniture pieces for your new collection. First, we wanted to choose the most iconic pieces that Hermès workshops were producing at that time: the “Confortable” clubs and sofas, as well as the u-shaped tables. Then we wanted to offer our client the possibility to create a universe around the living room and the dining room. Finally, we wanted to use the best savoir faire and materials of this era: straw marquetry, stingray and parchment.

Were any of the pieces adapted for today’s lifestyles?
Every piece is supposed to be as faithful as possible to the originals. For that, we studied originals kept in our conservatoire des créations, and we worked with experts to choose the right techniques and materials. Some pieces, such as the sofas and club armchairs, have been slightly reworked in their curves in order to improve the comfort [firmer seats, more flexible and subtly curved backs]. But those slight changes don’t impact the design. And the Jean-Michel Frank pieces were so visionary for his era that they now stand as completely timeless.

How many pieces of reissue Jean-Michel Frank are in the new collection? Twelve pieces have been reissued, but you can choose among a wide variety of materials and finishings: different leathers, canvas and fabrics, as well as colors of woods.

Are the wallpapers, fabrics and rugs designed to complement the Jean-Michel Frank collection, or are they a separate entity of Maison? We wanted to offer a complete universe for the home; it is a global art de vivre with the Hermès spirit. Our home collection comprises furniture —the Jean-Michel Frank, the Pippa and, in the future, some contemporary collections— home linens, furnishing textiles, wallpapers, rugs, tableware and decorative objects. Our creations are either inspired from our heritage or truly contemporary thanks to collaboration with modern designers or illustrators. That’s the case for our fabrics and wallpapers, where you can find a drawing from a scarf illustrator from the ’50s, as well as some designs from two young French graphic designers or an Irish designer. We see our collection as conveying a sense of eclecticism: While there is no total look, you can feel a certain harmony.

Will you continue to introduce more pieces from Jean-Michel Frank? We are going to balance our introductions with some contemporary pieces. In the coming years, we intend to reissue some other pieces as the heritage of Jean-Michel Frank is so unique and powerful!

I was immediately taken with the X table—so clean but textural at the same time. Do you have a favorite piece? Personally, I love the club armchair in sheepskin, which matches perfectly with pieces composed of straw marquetry.

Do you envision these pieces used only in contemporary interiors or can they be mixed with traditional pieces? For Hermès, there is no contemporary creation without tradition. We assume that our collections are a mix of contemporary tradition and traditional contemporary.