This week, Hermès unveils “Here Elsewhere,” an artistic encounter directed and designed by Robert Wilson. On view from May 10-12, Wilson has created an environment inside Chelsea’s Cedar Lake—his interpretation of the Hermès Maison Universe. The site-specific installation, which includes video portraits and live performances, is a showcase of the Maison’s collections, overseen by Maison Universe Artistic Directors, Charlotte Macaux Perelman and Alexis Fabry. Here, we speak with Perelman and Fabry about this unique collaboration and their new roles at the House.
Can you tell us what drove the designs for this first collection under your artistic direction? It is important for us to set a long term view for Hermès , to build on the unwavering values of the house. We don’t want to act rashly, but in a succession of organic movements to create an ordered and harmonious whole. Not all objects hold the same values: the object and furniture express purty and rigor, while the textile is more whimsical.
Can you describe a bit what it’s like to collaborate with Wilson — one of the greatest theater artists of our time? Bob is a very curious person who is interested in all forms of creative work. He immediately understood our work at Hermès and our conversations were very fluid. Knowing his work well, we told him what we were looking for. When he called Alexis and I to his Parisian apartment this winter and shared his ideas, everything was there, it was right and strong. The senses are very important at Hermes, touch of course, but also sound and smell. Bob surprisingly anticipated these values that are so dear to Hermès.
Will we see pieces from that collection at “Here Elsewhere”? Of course all pieces will be present in Here Elsewhere in New York City, but the staging will be different. Bob Wilson has everything we were seeking: a theater man, a rigorous stage director with uncluttered writing, as well as a collector of assorted objects, ceramics, chairs. We share wit him a taste for craftsmanship.
Will you be tapping other collaborators for future collections? The people we work with are chosen for their ability to respond well to specific questions, not for their ability to generate noise. For example, this year we asked Pierre Charpin to design a collection of lacquer objects because of his talent as a colorist, but also because he was returning from a residence in Japan where he learned a technique of traditional lacquer with a Japanese master. We also loved working with the architect Rafael Moneo. Using an architect is fitting because the pieces pass the test of time. We plan to use architects again to design furniture.
Who are some of your architecture heroes? The first architect whose work I admired is Luis Barragan. He builds and reuses the traditional architectural styles of his home country to create contemporary architecture. I love the work of Peter Zumthor for his respect for materials, and I am also very influenced by the work of ceramic artists such as Alev Siesbye, who creates bowls in the pursuit of perfection.
Installation images courtesy bfa.com