Launching its third exhibition as a four-part heritage cycle, Hermès In Motion was presented at the IFBE Gallery, Ballard Estate in Mumbai. The travelling exhibitions were preceded by Harnessing the Roots and Rouges Hermès. In addition to exploring the history of the house, the exhibition also brings to the foreground the origins of Hermès as a harness-maker. A theme that was evident throughout the design exhibition was the fact that Hermès’ first clients were horses. In a time where the idea of ‘more-than-human’ design has become an important design consideration, this aspect of French brands’ heritage is particularly interesting. Starting with its foundation in 1837 by Thierry Hermès, in Paris, France, the exhibition highlights the houses’ iconic themes, colours and objects, following in the footsteps of generations of creators and the craftsmanship of luxury design. But the overall theme of In Motion showcases objects that carry within them the desire to take off, to go elsewhere and roam. Hermès came into being at a historic time when modern life was gathering pace and men and women wanted nothing more than to move with ease in a bustling and increasingly mobile world.
It is an interesting juxtaposition to consider and drives the exhibition's narrative. At the time of its foundation, Hermès designed products that facilitated the connection between their two clients; the horses and the riders. With the evolution of transportation, Hermès has continued to shape its contemporary collections in order to remain not only relevant but extraordinary. From trotting on horseback to flying or even skateboarding, regardless of the means of transport adopted by their users, Hermès continues to provide an elegant sense of style. The exhibition design is constructed as a shell that will facilitate its journey onward as a touring exhibition. Charted in five stages under the direction of Bruno Gaudichon, curator of the La Piscine Museum, a museum of art and industry in Roubaix, and exhibition designer Laurence Fontaine, the exhibition features objects from the Hermès Conservatoire of Creations and contemporary pieces. In addition to archival objects and images, the exhibition presents objects from Émile Hermès’ private collection.
Within this vast corpus, of particular interest, is the very first Hermès scarf with its design of concentric circles of horse-drawn carriages inspired by the playing board of an eponymous game, the Jeu des omnibus et dames blanches. Joining the display is a pair of Postilion’s riding boots, the Flâneur d'Hermès, and the iconic Bolide picnic bag. The wicker bag, famously inspired by the Sac pour l’Auto, was created by the house in the 1920s and is a testament to how Hermès objects and designs travel not only distance but also time. The objects in the exhibition give pride of place to product design that combines ingenious mechanisms and elegance, such as the Pippa writing desk, which is useful when opened, and once closed, is put away and forgotten about; the cane picnic basket conceals, well hidden in its upper part, a battery of cutlery; and the Inversables, two columns of glasses mounted on mobile rings, can be taken on board a yacht or an ocean liner without ever fearing the swell of the waves.
Since 1837, Hermès has remained faithful to its artisan model and its humanist values. Axel Dumas, a sixth-generation family member, has been Hermès CEO since 2013. Founded in 2008, the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès supports projects in the areas of artistic creation, training and the transmission of savoir-faire, biodiversity, and the preservation of the environment. The heritage exhibition cycle will conclude with Once Upon a Bag.
The exhibition is on display from November 11 to November 20, 2022, at IFBE Gallery in Mumbai.