Wanderland, a Hermes exhibition – London


In today’s modern world there isn’t a lot of things which is made to heighten your curiosity and make you feel like a kid again. Hermes created an exhibition to do just that, the Hermes Wanderland at the Saatchi gallery off King’s road was a series of surreal rooms which is designed to liberate your sense of curiosity and see things in completely different ways. The exhibition is designed to heighten our senses in order to gather information, feelings and new experiences. If you were lucky enough to go to this exhibition (as it is now closed) you would know what that means and if you weren’t then I hope that my blog post captures a little of the fun and inquisitiveness I had while walking around this extraordinary space:
“It gives me great pleasure to have entrusted Bruno Gaudichon with curating this exhibition dedicated to “Flaneur Forever”, our 2015 theme, and Hubert le Gall with its set design. Their talented minds invite us all to wander and wonder, in Wanderland.” – Pierre – Alexis Dumas (Artistic Director, Hermes).
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From the moment you enter the exhibition directed by the most immaculately dressed and polite staff I have ever encountered outside of a 5 star restaurant or hotel you know you’re in for something special. The exhibition highlights historical pieces from the Emile Hermes collection, the Hermes archive and the contemporary collections in a completely unconventional way. Firstly you are introduced to the idea of Flanerie which is depicted in films throughout history all set in Paris, of course. Flanerie refers to the act of strolling, lounger, or saunterer it has rich historical associations with men of leisure, the idler, or the connoisseur of the street. This helped set the mood which Hermes wanted its audience for the rest of the surreal yet beautiful rooms to follow. After this introduction was a room full of vintage Hermes canes with their own specially designed and directed videos. These objects were beautifully displayed in the walls with monochromatic cane wallpaper plastered on the walls, ceiling and floor. You enter the exhibition properly through a big white wardrobe door opened for you by one of the well-dressed staff, almost as if you are entering a Hermes designed Narnia straight into a cross-section of a wardrobe divided into a male section and female section.
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The layout of the rooms were extremely playful with bags, scarves, and other Hermes products arranged throughout. It didn’t help while taking photos that the lights kept coming on and off with sounds to add to the curious nature of this whole experience.
My favourite was this black and white Birkin tennis bag. I could just imagine chic tennis players going to their tennis clubs in all white tennis gear with this bag, what a fabulous thought.
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After this the exhibition definitely pushed you down a rabbit hole into a completely different world.
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With a room which helped you transition further into the world of flaneur. It was as if you were upside down and walking on the glass of the Louvre. I couldn’t stop walking backwards and forwards it was simply cool.
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It was a great introduction to “The Square (That Wasn’t” which is a boulevard which is upside down and suspended in time. Where topsy turvy lamp posts and signs displayed the most amazing time pieces from Hermes over the years. It was great to walk around the room and wanting to look at everything and take in all your surroundings, a feast for all your senses.
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My favourite part of the room was the centre piece which rotated with an array of Hermes bags which you just wished you could get your hands on.
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I couldn’t wait to see what was around the corner, where we walked towards a curious little shop front to the cafe of forgotten objects.
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We entered a fully black room including the bar and all the contents behind it however there are bottles and objects everywhere with Hermes trinkets inside.
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You just want to look at everything. Including a chess board in a dome on the bottom of a chair which is stacked on a table – yes I did write that sentence correctly.
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It just got more and more interesting when you went deeper into the cafe. Strategically placed items on cafe tables with moving images around Hermes items such as moving cigarettes around a vintage cigarette holder.
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Moving textures in a paint palette next to a Hermes wallet. Everything just made you more and more curious.
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Then came one of my favourite rooms, the street artist room where images with nods to Roy Lichtenstein are plastered literally all over the room except for this blank door which opens to reveal the graffiti artist’s Hermes Birkin bag which is also sprayed to fit in with the room.
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Just being in that room made me happy and I couldn’t stop looking around and noticing different things.
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The elaborate sets continued into the rest of the rooms, the first of which was an arcade of shops with lots of different things in the windows including a squashed elephant covered in Hermes tableware to a Hermes fuel can.
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The display turned everyday objects into luxury goods or displayed in different ways for you to see them in different ways.
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The last room was extremely surreal, where there were large darker out windows on the walled and the floor with magical objects displayed inside them where you had to look extremely close to see them.
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A magic room where things happen when no one is there. Chandeliers moved, teacups spin around the teapot and the lights flicker.
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Then to send you on the way back to reality is a plain white room with a wall with intricately drawn pencil lines to create an archway over the door where images are magically projected to reveal different lighting and shadows. It was mesmerising, innovative, and beautiful, not like anything that I have seen before.
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I was reluctant to go through the door and return to reality, I was having such a fun time and didn’t want to leave Wanderland.
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All in all the exhibition was extremely fun and innovative and I haven’t been to an exhibition where I completely lost track of time and was completely engulfed in my surroundings. Hermes managed to create a space where old objects were shown and brought into a contemporary and theatrical space other then being displayed in a big glass case in the middle of a museum and to highlight that this brand is so much more then just leather handbags.
I love things which just bring pure joy, happiness, creativity and to bring attention to beautiful things. I had a fantastic time feeling completely inspired, I highly recommend that you wander into Hermes Wanderland if it travels near you, just get swallowed by that Hermes leather lined rabbit hole and see how far it takes you.
For more information on Wanderland please visit their website.