Carved out of the historic Lutetia pool in Paris, the memory of water echoes through the new Hermès Boutique on Rue de Sèvres. Originally built in 1935 in art deco style, this was initially a public swimming pool; after closing down in the 1970s, it was declared a national monument in 2005, reflecting the building’s importance to city history.
The architecture firm RDAI played with elements and colors reminiscent of water, celebrating the architecture’s storied past while introducing elements that focus on the complementarity of opposites from the perspective of shapes, colors and materials, in its approach to transforming the space into the famous French fashion house’s third Parisian boutique.
The new design respected the structure of the pool, concentrating the majority of the display area in the large central atrium where the 33 x 10 m pool was once located, in a large full-height volume topped by skylights, surrounded by columns and side galleries.
The surfaces embrace the mineral world: the atrium floor is made of light gray granite with green marble inserts, evoking the movement of waves and triggering a visual motion effect as you pass through. The wall-covering mosaics have been preserved and restored, as has the large, monumental, granite staircase.
Organic elements within the volume leaven the architecture’s grandeur: three large woven wooden structures rise toward the skylights, creating hut-like pavilions to display the maison’s various collections, their shapes recalling natural elements – birds’ nests, whale skeletons – and softening the architecture’s rigor. Rather than following a specific layout, they simply seem to emerge from the ground, giving the space a nomadic dimension.
Under canvas, the Home, jewelry and watch collections are displayed on organically-shaped wooden furniture. A fourth wooden structure follows the path of the staircase that links the entrance to the open space that formerly housed the swimming pool.
Side rooms and the upper floors are home to the women’s and men’s ready-to-wear and footwear collections, handbags and luggage. The room dedicated to the new Hermès Beauty experience leads on to the cafeteria and bookstore, which share a large space overlooking the big atrium.
Last, a nearby space houses collections from “petit h”, another Hermès brand, presenting a selection of exclusive items and limited-edition collections created specifically to celebrate the store’s reopening.
In homage to the maison’s creativity and craftsmanship, the Hermès Boutique on Rue de Sèvres invites its customers to discover the Parisian house’s mastery in all its lines, which have always embodied quality craftsmanship and artistic research, only now in a space that evokes the memory, splendor and history of Paris.
Location: Paris, France
Client: Hermès France
Gross Floor Area: 1,300 m2
Interior Designer: RDAI
Executive Architect: CALQ Agence d'Architecture
MEP: Secath Concept
Lighting: Metis Lighting
Photography: Guillaume Grasset, courtesy of RDAI
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