TORONTO — Since its debut in 2011 Hermès’ “Festival des Métiers” has traveled to 34 cities in 18 countries showcasing the brand’s craftsmanship. Now it heads to Vancouver from Sept. 21 to 25, with 10 of its artisans in tow for the debut of “Hermès at Work,” the 35th edition of the touring exhibition.
Set against the city’s west coast backdrop of mountains and ocean, the exhibition’s 5,000-square-foot enclosure built on Vancouver’s waterfront will be “like venturing into an intimate atelier workshop and a laboratory of discovery,” said Jennifer Carter, Hermès Canada’s president and chief executive officer.
Spanning nine different métiers, the glimpse into the making of the company’s signature gloves, leather handbags, saddles and watches will allow visitors to interact with Hermès’ artisans while they work. The show’s master craftsmen will also do live demonstrations of the silk engraving and silk rolling that distinguishes the famed Hermès’ scarf, as well as gem setting, watchmaking and hand-painting of the brand’s porcelain.
“Our roots are in craftsmanship,” Carter said. “People today may not realize that we make our own watch movements, or how technical our saddle-making process is at Hermès. They may not know that the edges of our scarves are still rolled by hand today, or that the silk engraving we do, which goes hand in hand with our silk printing, is a process that can take two years to complete.
“Even in the smallest of details there’s a human hand behind all this work. That’s what we want people to see and discover, as well as all the creativity, quality and artistic integrity that goes into the Hermès brand.”
To date, Hermès’ touring exhibitions have hosted more than 400,000 visitors worldwide. Each incarnation celebrates a different annual theme for the company. “Hermès at Work” pays homage to nature at full gallop. It also tips its hat to Vancouver’s beautiful natural scenery, according to Carter.
“Hermès believes in embracing multilocal culture across the globe. For that reason, 2016’s theme will be expressed quite differently in Vancouver than it would in Mexico, Amsterdam or other host cities,” Carter said.
For example, the custom-built enclosure for “Hermès at Work” on Jack Poole Plaza will provide unique views of the ocean and mountains to all who tour the exhibit space from its Coal Harbour setting.