MILAN — Louis Vuitton debuted its new “Les Petits Nomades” collection with an impressive installation at the prestigious Palazzo Bocconi here during Milan Design Week, which officially started Tuesday.
Conceived by some of the designers already involved in the “Objets Nomades” project, including Humberto and Fernando Campana, Atelier Oï, Patricia Urquiola and Marcel Wanders, “Les Petits Nomades” are small and precious home décor items that are directly inspired by the limited edition “Objets Nomades” furniture pieces.
“I think this project is a logical extension [of the ‘Objects Nomades’], but most importantly, all the designers that have been working with us for the past six, seven years were intrigued by the challenge to do something small,” said Louis Vuitton chairman and chief executive officer Michael Burke, who also praised the uniqueness of Milan Design Week for its peculiar attitude combining art, design and real business. “As you can see, most objects are quite large. When you have to translate the concept of the ‘Objets Nomades’ into something small, the challenge is bigger and of course that’s what interested us and that’s what interested them — to have the challenge that makes you do something that you don’t think is possible, since translating the same values of craft and leather and a journey into something small is actually much more difficult.”
The “Les Petits Nomades” range includes a vase featuring 176 metallic petals covered with leather by the Campana brothers; a diamond-inspired mirror trimmed in leather designed by Wanders; a leather asymmetric bowl conceived by Urquiola, as well as a series of items by Atelier Oï, such as a leather tray, a leather vase, a cushion and leather origami flowers.
While the “Objects Nomades” pieces require a lot of space in the Louis Vuitton stores to be exhibited at their best, Burke highlighted that “every single one of our stores can have a corner, a shelf, a table top with three or more of these ‘Objets.’ That’s the edition’s benefit. That’s not the main reason why we did it. It was a design challenge and then it turns out that, of course, it’s an actual benefit.”
Along with the new “Les Petits Nomades” creations, Louis Vuitton debuted two additional “Objets Nomades” pieces. They are the “Ribbon Dance” sinuous conversation set designed by André Fu, who was inspired by traditional Asian ribbon dances, as well as a maxi version of Wender’s Diamond Mirror.
“Just like everything at Louis Vuitton…it’s on fire,” said Burke, referring to the business performance of the “Objets Nomades” collection. “We can’t produce enough. This is all handmade, very often in one or two, maximum three places, where they actually have the skill set to make it. It’s beyond our expectations. There’s a one- to two-year wait list right now for most objects.”
While the “Objets Nomades” are particularly popular in those markets where people live in bigger spaces, including Europe, as well North and South America, Burke said that “’Les Petits Nomades’ will allow us to go to cultures that have small living spaces. Countries like Japan are going to be able to embrace this in the same way that other countries have embraced the ‘Objets Nomades.’”
Asked about the possibility of launching a full home line, as many other fashion brands have done, Burke said, “No, not yet. As of today, and of course things can change, there are no plans.” In particular, he explained that since the company always “conceives novel ways to approach a business” — and in particular he mentioned the disruptive business model the company embraced to enter the fragrance arena — it has yet to identify a unique, innovative way to launch and develop a home division because of the specifics of that industry.