Hermès is known as one of the ultimate purveyors of luxury goods, but its off-shoot line, Petit h, is all about up-cycling, or très chic re-cycling. For years, Creative Director Pascale Mussard has collected all sorts of defective goods, scraps left over on the cutting room floor, prototypes, and products that never sold and stored them in what she refers to in her caverne d’Ali Baba. For Petit h, artisans are let loose to ponder, imagine, and create. It’s kind of like nursery school for adults.
I found a great little series of short videos telling the story (trailer, episode 1, episode 2, episode 3, episode 4, episode 5). What struck me most was the positive joy exhibited by the artisans as they imagined new objects made from what was essentially garbage. The tag line at the end of each video is on ne jette rien; ça peut toujours servir (ohn nuh zjet reen; sah puh toozjoors sairveer), which means “we throw nothing away; it can always be used.” This idea of thrift and husbandry of possessions is so quintessentially French.
And what wonderfully poetic and whimsical creations they devise! There was an hour glass made of two vases that were fused together at the neck, filled with the same sand from which the crystal is made. There was a giant panda big enough to lounge on made from scraps of leather, and a graceful sailboat with sails created from a brilliantly hued scarf that wasn’t perfect enough to sell. The one-of-a-kind objects are available in limited-run installations in Hermès boutiques and a few are available on-line. They are priced from under $100 to about $10,000.