Pierre HERME: Exalting senses… when Taste embraces aesthetic style
Ispahan, Carrément Chocolat, Tarte Infiniment Vanille, Venus, macarons… musts which have
conquered the whole planet. Above and beyond his immense pastry-making talent, Pierre Hermé is also an entrepreneur, aesthete, epicurean, a trailblazer down to the very packaging of his products.
A discreet yet internationally-renowned man; genius pastry chef, nose just for pure olfactory pleasure; lover of contemporary art and Immortelle from Corsica: he’s ever-so one-of-a-kind! Whilst hosts of businessmen have lent their names to eponymous brands without really having a hand on the wings of their empire, Pierre Hermé remains forever Pierre Hermé and is involved in the creation of each of his products. Year-in, year-out, his packaging is inventive and precious, so, to how much is he involved?
You’re a creative and work like a stylist, illustrating your ideas and taste combinations through drawings. Do you do the same for your packaging?
Well, several scenarios exist but, as a general rule, I’ve already an idea in mind, for packaging style. The shape will be defined, of course, based on the product. After the initial briefing session, I keep an eye on all the development steps through to final project validation always consistent with the product. As for my sketches, they’re a means for exchanging with the pastry chefs who work with me in the creation workshop for highlighting the proportions between elements, and what I call taste architecture. These drawings are functional and although I occasionally add touches of colour, I don’t have enough time to indulge in really artistic sketches.
Are you involved in looking for suppliers?
We’ve a specialized person in-house who’s responsible for this essential phase of the creation project and they’re invaluable to us for helping us shape some of our original ideas, which can be overly-original, to materialize them technically.
You’re an aesthete and you often work hand-in-hand with designers and artists to create your packaging, so how does this come about?
I’m curious be nature and am interested in many subjects, graphic design in particular as well as art in general which forges one’s personal culture. Taking an interest in things develops the capacity to reason and opens the mind. We’ve always initiated collaborations with different artists at Maison Pierre Hermé Paris, be it for packaging or for other forms of expression. They’ve always been the result of an encounter, a wish to work together. Style is something that’s precious to me. Whether it’s with Kenya Hara with whom we created a special edition with his famous box for the Ispahan cake, Yan D. Pennor’s for the design and packaging of one of my creations “The Cherry on the Cake”, Nicolas Buffe for different packaging and products. Drawing our profession together with other artistic disciplines leads to mutual enrichment which does not reflect any preset pattern. Last year, for the end-of-year celebrations, we worked with the artist and designer Marjorie Colas who invited us on a journey into her world of dreamlike paper creations.
Which other artists have you partnered with on packaging projects?
Bernar Venet is one of my greatest encounters. During one of his wife’s exhibitions featuring artists’ jewellery, I was inspired by the reproduction of his monumental sculptures in infinitely small jewels. The idea for a “fève”, a charm began to germinate. After I’d presented the idea a first time, the man who would become a friend and with whom exchanges continue to this day, accepted, provided that he could also be involved in the visual aspect of the galette des rois (Epiphany cake). And, more recently, we called on Philippe Baudelocque who has a work of art permanently-exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo. We discussed with him and Philippe came back to us with a host of ideas which we were able to use and which will be reproduced on the products themselves. For a partnership to make sense, it’s vital to stay loyal to the artist’s spirit through every step of the creative process and that’s why we always ask them for their opinion.
Which artist would you like to work with?
Oh, there are loads! Cyril Kongo for example, a street artist.
“Master textures, shake senses (and sensations) up, provoke contrasts”, does this also apply to packaging?
Today, we’re in a period of reflection, in phase with the way of the world, to discover how we can replace plastic totally. As such, we need to focus more on content rather than on style even if we don’t see the product as well in its packaging. The packaging needs to be aesthetic, ethical and ecological. We need to speed things up and, it’s up to us, ordering parties, to shake things up. By discussing with suppliers and our counterparts, we’re well on our way to making it reality.
You’re curious, and you like collaborations: La Maison du Whisky, the Jardin de Palerme and Bergamote Ispahan bouquets, Café Dior, Les Deux Magots, La Maison du Chocolat …and L’Occitane. Could you tell us more about this last collaboration?
On a personal level, I’d already worked on the perfume, a realm I appreciate a lot. Whenever Reinold Geiger invited me to create a collection of 86 Champs-Élysées perfumes. I was really enthusiastic straight away especially as I’d carte blanche. So, I created a collection of 11 original perfumes. For the packaging for these perfumes, I wanted something understated and simple without frills.
Which realm interests you which you haven’t yet explored?
Responsible indulgence and vegan pastry, two subjects of the future. The first focuses on thinking about dietary intake to reduce the number of calories in pastry. Four pastries have already been created from this study conducted with the pastry chef Frédéric Bau. The second includes collaboration with La Maison du Chocolat and keeping an eye on all the initiatives in line with this goal.
Some news for the end of the year? We plan to launch our press campaign in September for our end-of-year products at the Palais de Tokyo to showcase our collaboration with Philippe Baudelocque. You’ll also discover the latest L’Occitane & Pierre Hermé 86 perfume “Cédre et Cédrat” (Cedar and Citron), a subtle harmony of two fragrances which interweave, one woody, the other with citrus overtones. The release of a new book on the latest Macaron creations published by Éditions de La Martinière.