Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hermès Does Good:
"Upcycling" in Product Design

Petit h photo shoot

When on my honeymoon in Paris many years ago I visited the Hermès shop on the Right Bank for the very first time. I remember being conscious of dressing well that day so as not to stick out as someone who knew nothing. I walked around the store in amazement trying hard not to look like a silly American. In the end the elegant shop attendants were extremely kind and cordial and helped me purchase some out-of-this-world perfume. It was a memorable experience.

When I think of Hermès today, I have a tendency to think of that eye-opening visit and their displays of colorful and luxurious silk scarves, their trademark deep orange branding, and of course the quintessential Birkin and Kelly bags (will I ever own one?).

Imagine taking "scraps" (if you can call Hermès-created fabric and materials scraps) and recycling them into creatively designed "poetic objects." That is what is happening at the esteemed design house Hermès. This new recycled collection has been named “Petit h” and was launched in Nov. 2010 in Paris with other launches planned for New York and Beverly Hills in October of 2011.

This is the first time I've heard the term "upcycling," which seems to fit this brand, don't you think?

According to ecouterre.com, Hermès is " cobbling together defective inventory and factory-floor leftovers. This collection has been created under the direction of Pascale Mussard who is the great-great-great-granddaughter of Thierry Hermès. Leather scraps have been turned into a dramatic necklace. A teapot spout has been transformed into a jewelry hangar."

Here are a few images I found of this "upcycled" collection along with a description of the materials they were created from. My favorite design of all is their life-size leather fawn made entirely of discarded Birkin Bag leather. Now you can actually afford a Birkin (maybe) even though it's now in the shape of a cute little animal.

Using their own high-end, discarded materials is truly an amazing direction for an upscale luxury brand to take and something other design houses, big or small, could emulate. I applaud Hermès!

silk scarves rejected and then re-invented into beautiful necklaces

pair of Hermès stirrups used in creating a swing

chest of drawers with brightly colored terry toweling originally a beach mat.

My Favorite! Birkin offcuts sewn together to become a life-size fawn

A Kelly purse handle finds new purpose as the handgrip of votive-holder.

chipped dish is sanded and smoothed into a ceramic pendant.

photos and info from www.ecouterre.com and gracehomeandliving.com


  1. Very clever! Love the upcycle term and concept. I recycle Hermes boxes (but I don';t think that is what they are after!). Xo

  2. Thanks for your comment, Sande! Those Hermes boxes get decades of use, don't they? Love them! Now, if I can only get a hold of an old Birkin...not sure they exist, but I can dream... :)