Much like the shoemaker’s elves, a discreet department at Hermès, called ‘petit h’ uses excess or waste materials from the maison’s other ateliers to create unique objets d’art.
Ever wondered what a luxury brand does with its leftover materials? The leather pieces, the cloth scraps, the metal bits, and all that is left over after your beautiful bag is assembled together. At Hermès, the petit h métier works in reverse gathering material that is in excess or of no use to other departments to create whimsical items.
Upcycling at its finest, the petit h métier improvises using leftover materials like leather, silk, crystal, porcelain, horsehair, metal, and more. It’s only after the material is collected that the designers put their heads together to design. This reverse style of creation isn’t the only thing that makes the métier a unique one, it’s also the ingenious items that come out of the process. From small trinkets like bag charms, key chains, shoe accessories to bigger projects like basketball loops, frisbees and stuffed animals, the choices are aplenty.
The department was founded by Pascale Mussard, the great-great-great-granddaughter of the brand’s founder and saddle maker, Thierry Hermès in 2010. In 2018, Godefroy de Virieu took over the reins and has been instrumental in creating whimsical hybrid one-of-a-kind pieces or very limited editions. He is aided by nine in-house craftsmen and over 80 external designers in his artistic adventure.
Bracelets made using the brand’s signature silk scarves; pocket animal figurine brushes made using horsehair from their equestrian line; jacket buttons on a salt shaker; porcelain cups used as candle stands — the options are plenty. While the approach to design is very playful and crafty, the finish of these products stays true to the Hermès ethos. Even as the materials are divorced from their original destination, they are matched perfectly in these upcycled products.
The simple act of using the leftovers, ones that would be discarded in a usual scenario, opens up conversations around responsibility and sustainability by the brand. With sustainability becoming 2020’s favourite buzzword, the petit h métier questions our consumption patterns, the fate of surplus materials and why upcycling should be a permanent fixture for luxury brands. While the products form a permanent place at the Hermès boutique on the Rue de Sèvres in Paris, they often make stopovers at Hermès stores across the globe and can be ordered on request.
All Images: Courtesy Hermès