ARTS & COLLECTIBLES
THE ART OF FINE DINING
Transform the dinner table with Hermès’ Objets et La Table—fantastical dinnerware collections created in collaboration with renowned artists.
Nothing elevates the dining experience like fine tableware, and French luxury brand Hermès makes some of the most coveted dining sets in the world. Like the perfect dinner party guest, each collection of the finely crafted plates, bowls, and dishes embodies a different, yet equally fascinating, character— pretty florals invite romance, bold abstract patterns channel the opulence of bygone eras, and playful illustrations of jungle or circus scenes add a touch of whimsy. So, just what goes into the creation of a new collection for Objets et La Table?
Each collection is created in partnership with a renowned artist, selected by Hermès, to align with the story they want to tell through the tableware. The results of this collaborative approach are diverse, with inspiration drawn from both the heritage of Hermès and from cultures around the world. Take, for example, Voyage en Ikat service, which resonates with the old textile know-how found in different parts of the world; the Bleus d’ailleurs service, which evokes the blue used in Chinese porcelain or Delftware; or A Walk in the Garden, a dreamy abstract collection by Irish architect Nigel Peake inspired by English gardens.
“The development of a new Hermès tableware collection is always a long process,” reveals Benoît-Pierre Emery, creative director of Objets et La Table at Hermès. “Every collaboration is different, and each artist has their own way of working, own creative universe, their own technique, and own tempo.” The first step is to determine a theme, after which an important research and development phase follows. “Many drawings are produced in order to find the right note and the most perfect expression possible,” says Emery. Passifolia, for example, is a collection released earlier this year adorned with lush botanical illustrations by French artist Nathalie Rolland-Huckel—think fuschia orchids and orange lilies artfully set against the greenery of tropical palm fronds and enormous monstera leaves.
“There is always a drawing that acts as a sample piece,” says Emery. “It is important because it will define the style and identity of the entire tableware collection—we work with the artist to come up with inspiration so that they can give life to the project we imagined.”
From the beginning of the process for Passifolia, it was essential to understand how the scale and composition of Rolland-Huckel’s idiosyncratic illustrations would work with the various pieces of tableware. It took almost a year to create a full set of illustrations. “When we create a table service, it can be considered as creating a puzzle,” says Emery. “Each piece must have its own identity, it’s autonomy and be able to exist when isolated but at the same time be able to fit with the rest.”
One of the cornerstones of Hermès as a luxury brand is its relationship with craft. The brand began in the 19th century crafting luxurious equestrian accessories, and today has teams of talented patternmakers, artisans, and designers who bring its sartorial vision to life. The tableware is no different, and each collection continues to push boundaries. Passifolia used a multi-step chromolithography process, made even more demanding by the addition of decorative elements that extend inside certain pieces, such as teacups—and it took more than 2,000 hours for the artisans of three workshops in the French city of Limoges to apply each petal, leaf and stem onto the white porcelain in more than 30 different colors.
“Each tableware collection is an opportunity for a new technical challenge and to push our know-how to its limits,” says Emery. “We are lucky enough to work with great craftsmen and women in our workshops who are committed to striving for even greater perfection in their work in order to achieve the best possible results.”
While each collection from Objets et La Table is completely unique in its style and design, they are unified by this dedication to quality and craft and a driving desire to bring the artist’s vision to life. They go beyond our expectations of what a dinner service can or even should be and bring a touch of magic to dining.
As Emery says, “When you develop a new tableware collection, it is important to understand the history of the house, but it is also key to go beyond it and create with a lot of freedom. We always seek to explore new territories and tell new stories by bringing together diverse graphic expressions, both figurative and those which are more abstract and graphic.”
So, the next time you’re planning a dinner party, you might just want to invite Hermès to the table.