The Hermès Wanderland Exhibit In London
The Hermès Wanderland Exhibit in London is a collection of whimsical pieces, brought together by Emile Hermès, one of the French company’s long list of family entrepreneurs. A small portion of his artefacts are the core of the charming exhibition at London’s Saatchi gallery, known for its modern-art exhibitions.
“When you join Hermès, you need to be a bit crazy,” said Axel Dumas, the company’s CEO, “A wonderfully liberating art of urban wandering is second nature to Hermès,”. Axel Dumas, praising London as a “happening” spot, seemed to suggest that the once buttoned up Anglo Saxon attitude had changed, making the elegant offerings in the store appropriate for the cosmopolitan city.
Out of a selection of the 30,000 artefacts has come what Axel Dumas called an “immersive exhibition” that starts with a room of canes. The walls are inserted with videos, like graphic windows, bringing the objects to life. A dancer juggling with his cane is described as “dancing the cane-cane”, as a riff on the French can-can.
Curator Bruno Gaudichon and scenographer Hubert Le Gall used eight artists to give a touch of Alice in Wonderland craziness: hence street lamps turned upside down to stand on their heads. A wall of drawings of famous Parisian places includes motor cars zooming behind a horse-drawn carriage and top-hatted gentlemen from the turn of the century chatting up modern, miniskirted girls.
The fascinating part of the displays is the mix of historical and digital, as in a room where the candelabra is made of champagne glasses and where a mini Eiffel Tower suddenly swings out of a mirror.
There is even the recreation of a shopping galerie – the nineteenth-century genus of today’s shopping mall.
Perhaps only a privately owned luxury company could produce such an engaging exhibition that spends a fair amount of time laughing at itself and celebrates the quirkiness of its family history. But this theatre of illusions has a clear message when it reaches the final curtain. That is, in fact, a door, which appears to be three dimensional with curlicues and decoration. In reality, it is a flat surface given twenty-first-century digital depth. “The future is digital,” announces Axel Dumas. And that turns Wanderland into Wonderland.
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