I tend to drift into an occassional Hermes store but usually drift out empty handed because colorful Limoges ashtrays with hunting dogs or fancy equine themed silkscarves are not my usual cup of tea, but I saw something that struck me in 2010 at a Hermès store in the Landmark in Hong Kong: a modern set of ivory whie ceramics with a distinct Oriental flair!  I enquired and purchased what the store had in stock, but they only had an odd piece here and there and not enough to make a set of anything. An exquisite tea cup with lid and saucer was not available, nor was the coffee cup and saucer.  I finally bought what they had at hand: a square petit carré no. 5 plate  ($200):

Petit carré no. 5 23 x 23 cm

Subsequently, I searched at other stores in Hong Kong and then Bangkok where prices are much higher and I gave up.  I was able to purchase This is a special and beautiful tableware collection debuted in late 2008 by Hermes and inspired by the Krug Room at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong It is designed in collaboration with contemporary calligrapher, Fung Ming Chip (馮明秋) with the idea that the calligraphy evokes bubbles rising in a glass of champagne. The design was by Hong Kong based Marc and Chantal ( a studio is led by three partners, French designers Chantal Réchaussat, Marc Cansier, and Swiss designer Marc Brulhart) to create a sense of water and movement effects on the ceramic.  There are a total of 18 pieces of China in the collection and it is a the first time Hermes has created a range of tableware. The calligraphy relates to friendship, drinking and merry-making by famous Chinese poets.

 

copyright © 2011, marc & chantal design; photo credit CK Wong

 

Petite carré No. 3 15 x 15 cm

Notice that the designers punctuated each artwork with small and playful Chinese Red chops carved by the artist; explored different scales as well as gradients in the rendering of the subtle grey tones of the calligraphy; and presented, on the various pieces of the collection, either full poems, extracts or single characters (like “詩” or “poem”  in the above plate). The skill and craft of Hermès ateliers are on full display in the rendering of the ink, with touches of platinum making it look as if it has just been applied, still glistening and wet (but no microwaving please!).