Petit h, by Hermès, is an ultra-chic eco-dream factory

It is impossible to imagine that behind this anonymous white door, on an ordinary street in Pantin, the laboratories of Petit h are hidden – a kind of combination between the laboratory of an interesting scientist and the house work of Santa Claus. Godefroy de Virieu, the creative director, blue eyes about the dress of the artist and the simplicity of the citizen, welcome us with the feeling of someone who does not know where to turn because he is He has many wonderful things to show us. If we thought about sitting quietly in his office to conduct the interview, it was gone. We left our bags in a corner and followed him as he traveled from workshop to workshop. But before getting to the heart of the matter, let’s remember what will lead our audience: Petit h is one of the first circular design works. The workshop was founded in 2010 by Pascale Mussard (the former director of Hermès, related to the family that owns the house), under a simple idea: to return unused items from all the worlds of Hermès and other brands of the group (Puiforcat and Cristalleries Saint Louis) make new, surprising, limited editions, if they are not exclusive copies. Just the little things, then! Some are available online, others in the brand’s stores on the move, until this fall: a space is dedicated to them ad infinitum at the Hermès store on rue de Sèvres, in Paris .

Buttons from old collections transformed into pop salt shaker © Aglaé Bory

Godefroy de Virieu (who started the journey with Pascale Mussard from the beginning and actually succeeds her as creative director after her departure in 2018) will start by taking us to in a quirky room where you can find everything. , and some bags seen in art exhibitions. We learned that a “Kelly” model has been converted into a small office building, for example. Next door are shelves full of leather pieces that landed there because of a small blemish or an unsuccessful color attempt. Little by little, we are knocking on the door of the real Ali Baba cave for those who love silk roses.

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This group of yellow leather lines an amphora © Aglaé Bory

Music and joy as a raw material

At Petit h, the development process is done literally. We don’t start from an idea, an image, a desire. “The whole idea of ​​Petit h is to gather things without any preconceived ideas, explains Godefroy de Virieu. We work with what we have – without knowing beforehand what will happen.” we have, or a lot. This is what makes music and the joy of this business. Its ability to surprise, too. » Things arrive on the water: skins and Printed silk, therefore, but also rugs, porcelain cups and saucers, glasses, buttons and clothes from ready-to-wear collections… History is a residence horse; models from the 1960s, which are very old ergonomically speaking, have become chair backs, guitar bodies and sled seats. The rules are clear: one, you must work with, and the only thing you have on hand; if you lack a ring of the right size, there is no question of going shopping. Second, it’s about making things that have a purpose – especially It’s easier to give decorating. For Godefroy de Virieu, the salt house made of Saint Louis glass, a button and a leather circle, is probably the most emblematic Petit hi, although it is an everyday thing that comes together to items from many household activities. A perfect summary of the story.

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Chains, ribbons, printed silks and original sleeves are reborn as a new design element. © Aglae Bory

Many artists and outdoor designers are invited to participate in the dance, sometimes a rope or a string of lights to give them the desire to turn. The pommel chair by Christian Astuguevieille is amazing, the leather animals wander in Petit h for a while, by Adrien Rovero, the vases are already in bloom (thanks to the leather-conscious botanicals) to progress on the day of Our visit was planned by the Japanese Shinsuke Kawara. Godefroy de Virieu, the first thing he designed for Petit h was a swing made of a wooden board, two stirrups and leather straps that were made in fifteen or twenty copies over the years. ten, no more.

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High-flying hack

But be careful: there are not many designers without the experts of the factory, smart and agile professionals who can give life to all dreams. Some people in leather or fabrics, others in sewing, many people worked at Hermès before arriving there. “With its freedom, its creativity, its experimental side, Petit is a real attraction of talent from the house, underlines Godefroy de Virieu. The main thing is to be careful with the idea of ​​”noble DIY”: we try , try again, we know the tips… We change it every day; it’s as inspiring as the hand. In short, we practice high-flying hacks here, with breath-taking technical skills. . One of the new models of the group, “melted skin”, is the perfect image of this. The principle ? Give skins in the form of porcelain or glass containers (e like the dishes or compotes obtained from Saint Louis). sealing the surface seal has the desired effect.

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It’s a world apart

Walking into the workshop on one side and the other to the sound of “I’ll show you” by Godefroy de Virieu, we see a top sofa in the shape of a fish made of chains , amphoras inlaid with straws, terracotta carafes. lined with glass shutters, mirrors hung on leather branches (the Petit h version of the macrame suspension). There is also a specially designed security area for a Hermès Australia store that used to be a former bank. The object has the body of a corpse: the outside is covered with a thick geometric fabric borrowed from the world of the house, the inside is covered in yellow leather, the legs are in glass, the strap is a piece of bag. A motley machine equipped with bits of wooden hooves, the brushes used to clean horse hooves. Next, the cut of jersey and Neoprene from men’s ready-to-wear clothing begins to take the form of water bottles designed by artist Aurélie Mathigot. “I want us to start on the third act,” said our leader. Three… features, then a micro-series? “No, three copies. “Obviously. We’re in a separate world. There’s no schedule of time or quantity. There’s no schedule to follow; when something’s ready, it’s sold, time.

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The home office

At the time of the widespread of eco-rights, each sector will strengthen the use of its resources. As leather goods leave less and less leather, pieces from past seasons become book covers and bags. “He can touch us, see Godefroy de Virieu. But we can only be happy that the circular economy is moving, everyone is taking this important question and looking for solutions for the recycling on their part. One thing is clear: Petit’s specific method is to stimulate the different businesses of the house in a transversal way and promote a productive dialogue between them. Based on technical knowledge, fair associations of materials, collaboration with artists, Petit hi has become a treasure house for all areas of the house; the nuggets found in this strange house are often taken next, revised or changed in entire collections … If the art of fall is the future of beauty, Petit hi has not stopped showing the way.

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