Photo: Edward Hendricks
Many things come to mind when we discuss French luxury label Hermès. There’s the coveted Birkin and Kelly bags for example, or its Duc carriage with horse logo. Another thing it’s most known for? Its prominent and eye-catching window displays that are akin to art installations.
The window displays, which can be at times whimsical, provocative, and often, dramatic, is a way for the brand to champion artists and creatives by giving them an avenue to showcase their work. Don’t believe us? Just take a stroll and look at the window display at the brand’s Liat Towers store in Singapore.
A new display, Daydream Mirage, has just been set up and will be there until August 5. The playful display uses corrugated cardboard to create fantastical plants that yield a dream-like environment. We posed some questions to its creator, French artist Lilian Daubisse, to find out more about the inspiration behind his work with Hermès.
But that’s not all, keep reading to learn more about our other favourite artistic displays that have graced Hermès’ windows.
Daydream Mirage — Lilian Daubisse
Photo: Instagram/ @liliandaubisse
Q. Could you tell me more about yourself and your art?
A: “I have always been interested in the artefacts of old civilisations. At the same time, I am also interested in the artistic production of current generations of designers. I regularly visit different museums such as the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris where you can discover fashion and furniture designers. I also visit the Quai Branly Museum for inspiration.
I think that my creative style, or how I imagine that it may be seen or interpreted by others, is at the crossroads of different artistic fields. It is interesting for me to be working at the intersection of design, sculpture, fashion, installation and craft art. It’s the best place for me to nurture my creativity.”
Q. Why and how did you choose cardboard to be your medium?
A: “I began using corrugated cardboard when I was a student. I originally used this material to make models for artworks that I wanted to create. At some point, I began using the leftover pieces of cardboard to create small objects. My use of cardboard developed from there.
Throughout the years, I have been able to explore the use of cardboard and all the possibilities that it offers and have experimented with different techniques. I find the contrast and the paradox of using this industrial material to create handmade art both fascinating and stimulating.”
Q. What is the idea and concept behind DayDream Mirage?
A: “With this installation, I wanted the viewer to be transported to an imaginary world, a world in which the surroundings are transformed during that brief moment before one slumbers into sleep, a moment where reality is altered.
The vegetation found in these windows — out of scale with reality, composed of forms and shapes that seem familiar but when combined with the textures and colours veer towards the fantastical — is the hidden side of this imaginary world.”
Q. How did you go about conceptualising and executing the piece?
A: “At the beginning of a project, I proceed in an intuitive and instinctive fashion. I make an inventory of images, pictures and writing, I visit museums and exhibitions, etc. At some point, the images remain in my mind and become the source that nurtures the subject.
For Daydream Mirage, the inspiration took place during a visit to the Quai Branly Museum in Paris which houses a collection of works from Africa, the Near East, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. It happened while I was contemplating a pointillist painting by an Australian aboriginal artist named Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri which I had observed many times before: Tijunginpa Mouse Dreaming.
The painting is square, and the entire surface is covered in yellow dots with no apparent pattern or motif — it is at once abstract and mysterious. Like dreams, this painting retains its secrets that can only be unlocked by one who possesses the key and the ability to decipher it.
But even if we don’t possess that key, we can nevertheless form our own interpretation and understanding of the work as we do with dreams. The richness of a work of art lies in its evocative power and its ability to incarnate multiple meanings.
The background of the window installation uses this pointillist technique to evoke the shadows of the vegetation on the walls and floor composed of thousands of yellow dots in the shapes of flowers and stems.”
Q. What were the challenges you faced?
A: “As with the previous Hermès window projects, one of the challenges I have faced has been to renew and adapt each proposal to the specific place and theme while searching at the same time to retain my artistic identity.”
Q. What kind of takeaways do you want the viewer to have with this window display?
A: “I hope that the window installation will be a source of contemplation for the passerby, allowing them to stop in their busy lives and daydream in front of the imaginary plant life found inside, which echoes the luxuriant vegetation found in Singapore.
Nature presented as a dream is the symbol of continual renewal — the seed turning into the stem, the stem into the flower, and the flower into the fruit. Like Alice stepping through the looking glass, when they gaze through the window, I hope that they will be transported into this imaginary world, where nature has blossomed into new and original forms.”
Q. How does the “Hermès” element come in with regard to the window display you did?
A: “I share with Hermès a love of craftsmanship and of objects that are designed and created by hand. Hermès collaborates with artists of very different backgrounds and remains at the forefront of contemporary creation.”
Photo: Edward Hendricks