When French architect and illustrator Thibaut Rassat and fashion house Hermès decided to collaborate on a wallpaper and outdoor fabric, the most obvious place for Rassat to start sketching was the flagship Paris boutique on Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
‘I wandered around the store for a long time and noticed details of the architecture, such as the railings, the arches and the blinds,’ he recalls. ‘Despite the Haussmann density of the building, some places had views, depths, like an invitation to travel or daydream.’ The resulting illustration, ‘Sur les Toits’ (On the Roofs), was conceived ‘as a story that elevates the viewer’s gaze from the street to the garden on the Hermès roof’.
First drawn in Chinese ink with a brush, then in blue ink, there is a holiday-like feel to the design, available both as a close-up and panorama. ‘“Sur les Toits” expresses an imaginary city with bright façades, terraces and balconies,’ continues Florence Lafarge, creative director of textiles at Hermès.
‘The four colourways depict different moments of the day: the first, sandy and bursting with light, evokes the full sun; the fourth and last is an intense blue, recalling the twilight – that moment the sun disappears on the horizon to reveal shadows in half-tones.’
There is also ‘Quatre Cavaliers’, a looser, sketchy interpretation featuring knight chess pieces watching over the store and its roof garden, which is available as a wallpaper and panoramic, and a jacquard or cotton-printed fabric.
For Rassat, whose Instagram feed (@thibautrassat) contrasts detailed sketches of rooftop sand gorgeous flower-filled balconies with more minimal geometric lines, cityscapes are a major inspiration. ‘I’m passionate about architecture; walking around cities, I find it interesting to look at the way they have been built up, layer by layer.’ A practising architect for eight years and an illustrator for even longer, he is driven by the creativity of each individual project.
Creativity, of course, is also at the heart of Hermès, which has a long history of working with artists. ‘Drawing has always been a major part of the house,’ confirms Lafarge, who, when she first saw Rassat’s work, was immediately struck by his sense of composition and colour.
It is part of a bigger range of furnishing fabrics and wallpapers, which also features a chevron floral print by graphic designers Anne Roussel and Veronika Wildgruber, and a tropical pool scene by artist Kevin Lucbert.
‘I was keen to highlight the craft of drawing by hand rather than on the computer, so each design reveals a particular tool: a pencil, felt tip, quill, ballpoint pen, watercolour...’ says Lafarge. ‘The artworks by our illustrators create a bridge between their creative universe and us, and we are always looking for new stories to tell.’ homesfabrics.hermes.com
This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration August 2020
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