Paris luxury brand sheds light on Miami’s Design District.
By Jilian Sanz
It was 1930 when Hermès broke ground on the very first of, what are now, 33 stores in the United States. At the time, the house was already 93 years old and a far cry from its original mission as aharness-maker — dabbling solely in accouterments for what was their very first client, the horse. All in all and 178 years from its inception, today Hermès has become synonymous with exquisitely done goods.
And since the world has watched the brand grow from harnesses all the way through to housewares — and everything in between — it’s only fitting to celebrate the aperture of the latest building in which to house this trove of treasures.
Erected in what Hermès’ chief executive officer, Axel Dumas, calls the “dynamic and innovative neighborhood” of Miami’s Design District, the three-story building and its lush, landscaped rooftop garden further speak to the modernity-meets-classicism that is Hermès. Wood, metal, and stone co-exist quite naturally in the highly designed structure and work to highlight Hermès’ sixteen métiers — the reference that embodies the skills that add to the house’s collections, which include leather goods and saddlery, ready-to-wear and accessories, silk and textiles, perfumes, watches, and some others that cover jewelry, tableware, and the art of living, overall. A special section of the boutique — the first of this kind in the United States — is dedicated to Les Cristalleries de Saint-Louis, which for a better part of 20 years has been producing Hermès’ handcrafted crystal objects.
And on the subject of crystal, it seems as clear as the aforementioned that Hermès would choose to continue to build roots in Miami. Hermès’ commitment to their “faithful American clientele” is well served in the Magic City, for sure. But similarly, and in the words of the brand’s president, Robert Chavez, “Miami is [also] in many ways at the crossroads of the world.” The San Antonio-born executive of Hispanic descent understands that Miami “is the gateway to Latin America,” and cites the “light, color, and brio of this dynamic city” as “what make it irresistible to so many — Hermès among them.”
Given the geographic desirability of the new space and its incredible corner unit — with its myriad opportunities for use of natural light — the task of architectural design for the13,000-square-foot structure was entrusted to Denis Montel, artistic director of the Paris-based architecture agency RDAI.
Montel’s observation — that most of the district’s buildings were similar in height approximation and most of the streets lined with design-blocking trees to protect from harsh sunlight — inspired his motion to counter that sameness. “I wanted to create the concept of vibration,” he explains, referencing a sketch of vertical lines inspired by a forest of tall, thin, randomly spaced trees. “It was about how to create protection from the sun, while also playing with movement.”
Today, daylight filters through the building, somewhat like the downward passage of light into the previously mentioned forest — the space engulfed in shadows from all angles. At night, when the shops have shut, the building makes a different kind of statement with its double-layer façade glowing gently, something they liken to a “lantern.” It’s really more of an installation than a building, a gallery even, housing works of art — some of which are unique to this space.
A collection of special objects will be available only in Miami: trays, candleholders, vases, and even bicycles injected with punchy, Miami-appropriate colors, leather and cotton hammocks, exclusive swimwear, and the commemorative Flamingo Party silk scarf, specifically designed by longtime Hermès collaborator and cousin of the Dumas family, Laurence Bourthoumieux. The scarf features two flamingos — known for their mating dances —entwined, their necks forming a heart. Not much different from how the city has welcomed the new boutique — with a deep embrace.