"Clockwise from above: Godefroy de Virieu, Creative Director of petit h, in the atelier. A solitaire game made of leftover Hermès leathers. Leather paperweights in the whimsical form of mushrooms. A ﬁsh-shaped bag"
What is the most exciting thing about petit h? The fact that every day, we make progress on the technical front because petit h is about combining materials that are traditionally not meant to be mixed. For example, marrying a piece of crystal with leather or porcelain to create a new object is always a challenge. This challenge, which is a part of our daily language, is what I enjoy most about petit h. It can be very demanding as we’re constantly exploring new concepts and evolving the know-how with new combinations. With every completed challenge, you move on to the next and explore ways to apply the new techniques to other objects. The true strength of petit h lies in its methodology—the way we confront technicalities and push the craftsmen’s way of doing things. Sometimes, some of that savoir faire gets passed on to the other Hermès métiers. Is there a material you particularly enjoy working with? All the materials at Hermès are amazing and have something to say if you know how to look at them. The richness of petit h lies in the diversity of our materials and our ability in assembling them to create new types of objects. And this diversity is exciting. We build bridges with the know-how of different countries; we explore new materials, and cross them with our techniques and our own materials. Apart from working solely with leftover materials, are there any other guiding principles at petit h? At Hermès, when we create an object, it must have a place in our daily lives. It has to be so well done that it can be passed down for generations. It must also be useful because all Hermès projects have a sense of utility, which lies at the root of the House. Hermès was a saddle and harness maker that made the best leather goods for horses. They were light and all the details were very well sewn, so the horses could move freely. People love Hermès for that, and I think that we’ve kept this mindset from 1837 until now and that’s what we will continue to do. There is always a function, and that is very important to me as a designer when I think of an object. Petit h undertakes a lot of collaborations. What do you look for in a partner? Dialogue is the most important thing. I really want a dialogue among the people here; with the team, with the craftsmen, with the developers and with the materials. I also look for people who bring emotions into their work. I like working with those who can discuss and explore things together. This is one of the most important things—we need to communicate very well; not just with me, but everybody at petit h. We like people who are a big part of the petit h family. What inspires you? I love nature—it rejuvenates me. I also draw a lot of inspiration from people and the way they behave in everyday life. I’m very interested in everyday objects and objects of use, which is why Hermès has always fascinated me. For me, it is a House that has always made beautiful, useful and durable objects. ■