This is the story of an English garden, of a place where flowers and forms flourish, where colours engage in informal dialogue, as familiar friends – according to a guidebook handed out to visitors during the launch of Hermes’ latest collection for the home in Milan.
This year, the premium French brand’s focus on colour is underscored by a range of porcelain tableware featuring colourful prints and patterns. Four dominant hues – bright orange, leaf green, buttercup and Prussian blue – are used to evoke the whimsical, yet endearing, feel of strolling through an overgrown garden laden with twigs, leaves and grass shooting through latticed, chequered and herringbone motifs.
The tableware collection, aptly named A Walk In The Garden, is the brainchild of Irish artist and author Nigel Peake. While Nigel has created illustrations for Hermes’ advertisements and scarf designs before, this is the first time that he is partnering the label for its tableware collection. It also happens to be his virgin attempt at working with the delicate porcelain material.
With his unique touch, the illustrations spring to life, resulting in a collection that conveys a sense of youthfulness brimming with excitement and understated elegance.
A walk in the garden
The tableware collection, designed by Nigel Peake and created by Studio Hermes, consists of teacups, as well as bread and butter, dessert and dinner plates.
Were you excited to take on this project?
Yes, it was an especially enjoyable assignment for me because a garden, in my opinion, is a small world but one that is ﬁlled with many elements. I didn’t want to create a mere illustration of a garden. My challenge was to come up with designs that feel like a garden – so you have the structure and form of an English garden but, along with it, you can also see the way nature takes over. I wanted to portray the sense of vitality and randomness that come with all things organic.
What was it like designing on porcelain?
It’s very different from the usual canvas I work with, but I believe we have managed to use the ﬁne and delicate quality of porcelain to our advantage. The resulting designs feel soft and ﬂuid, even when presented on a ceramic base.
How long did the process take, from brief to actual production?
I think it was about 18 months ago that Benoit Pierre-Emery, creative director of Objets et La Table at Hermes, approached me with the idea. It was summertime and we were talking about the garden concept while walking through a garden. It took 20 rounds of prototyping before we ended up with a version that produced the right colours, texture and look, but it was a valuable learning process.
What does luxury mean to you?
Luxury, to me, is being able to enjoy the little things in life. It’s having coffee in the morning, and having sunny days when you get to see your shadow on the ground (which is a rare occurrence in Ireland where I am from, because it’s always cloudy). Luxury is being able to hang your laundry on a line and just taking time to see the way it ﬂutters in the wind. The true sense of luxury is to appreciate something, which I believe anyone can; all you need to do is open your eyes.
text YOUNG LIM photography HERMES, A. SAMSON