Hats off to Pascale Mussard for her astoundingly impressive creativity -- or should we say re-creativity -- Hermès' Petit h. Mussard, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Hermès founder Thierry Hermès, and its director, explained her creative genesis to FringeBacker's marketing director Vivien Chan when they met in Hong Kong this week, "At a young age, I was intrigued by a special gift from my great uncle Robert Dumas-Hermès. He gave me a stone from the beach which was polished and delicately placed in an orange box. I was so proud of it and even though I had so many things, this meant a lot to me. Since then I was inspired with creating unusual objects, and reinventing them to a different form.”
Mussard has set for herself a challenge -- to merge the inspired creativity that was nurtured by her own childhood upbringing up in Paris, with unbounded imagination about how we should live our lifestyles. As she spoke, she was reminiscent: “Since I was young, I have been going to the Hermès workshop at Faubourg Saint-Honoré every day after school, I would play with the little pieces leftover by the craftsman and use them to make play things”.
Mussard's adorable baby Petit h (what she calls her atelier de re-création) is the exhibition of her artistic mission to evangelise the Hermès magic, where her creativity in her mind meets excellence in French craftsmanship -- topped off with her wonderful tendency to surprise and make us smile. To bring this about, this warm and gentle lady set off on a brilliant adventure to re-create and upcycle amazingly beautiful materials that otherwise would be discarded, turning them into functional works of art in a multitude of ways that are totally unexpected -- this is the essence of Mussard’s (grand) Petit h.
And, what's more, each piece is unique. “Many pieces were inspired by items owned by my family", Mussard said, showing a triangular-shaped pouch made of silk scarf, "like this whimsically-shaped little bag pouch which is something that my grandmother used to have, and I begged her to give it to me but she refused.”
Although perhaps whimsical, Petit h – little h -- is not your typical baby sister. In fact, Mussard's Petit h is the precocious younger sibling who is re-shaping "Grand H" – Hermès..... and in a grand way, as well as re-directing the way that Hermès thinks about its own direction. Because Petit h is about upcycling, the small name given to the grand mission of breathing a second life into otherwise unused and discarded scraps and materials.
For instance, leather trimmings falling off from the cutting table of a craftsman, crocodile skin with irregular scales or uneven dye, air bubbles on the stem of a crystal glass, a tiny mark on a silk scarf -- all of these things are normally rejected by Hermès. Chipped porcelain, irregular horse hair, towelling remnants, marked buckles -- what Hermès would otherwise have discarded end up being the materials that are a treasure trove for Mussard and her team of Petit h designers, breathing new life into them.
At Petit h's workshop, Mussard and her artists let their imaginations rove wild in their (work!) playground. Quietly located down the street from the main Hermès atelier in Pantin, France, it is at this laboratory of creativity where Mussard and her team of designers run their visions over whatever materials they are left with.
Mussard explained lovingly to FringeBacker the upcycling that she was wearing -- “We also invite artists and designers to collaborate with us -- this reversible cardigan I am wearing today is designed by Gustavo Lins; it is made from Hermès scarf on one side, and Hermès tie material on the other. And the necklace is made from a Cristallerie Saint-Louis wine glass base designed by Gilles Jonemann. I love it!”
We need to help Creative People, they are our Future
FringeBacker: “As a network partner of UNESCO's Art in Education Observatory, FringeBacker is an ardent funder of arts, creative and cultural projects -- these projects use our online platform to get funding from the community. I’m sure our creative and talented project owners will be very inspired by what you are doing with Petit h.”
Pascale Mussard agreed: “I can see that it is very difficult for creative people, they have so many ideas but they do not necessarily have the opportunity to make it. We need to help creative people, they are our future.”
As Mussard was talking to FringeBacker -- out on the shop floor at Hermès Galleria Shop in Hong Kong, where the Petit h travelling caravan had only just started its one-month special visit -- an extremely contented lady walked off with an exclusive HK$400,000 (US$51,000) Petit h Kelly set on five crocodile skin feet. There you go -- Pascale Mussard's creativity and imagination meets no boundaries!