When a client brings a spark of inspiration to the design process, it makes my job as a designer much more rewarding. My primary role as an interior designer is an interpreter…being able to translate my client’s tastes into successful spaces. In doing so, the rooms become like the individuals and no two turn out alike. I recently had the privilege to work on a project that was inspired by a client’s favorite Hermès scarf. It embodied everything she desired…the colors, the pattern and the luxurious feeling she wanted for the space.
The last time I was in Paris, I saw the Hermès textile and wallpaper collection for the first time…The spell that this line always casts had me completely enchanted.
Zébrures takes its inspiration from a zebra’s coat. The stripes form a wave, like palm leaves in the wind. The motif appears in the cotton weft over a silk chevron background which gives this jacquard fabric texture and contrast.
The Hs fit together like links in a chain to form undulating lines. This brocatelle jacquard, made of cotton and linen is sturdy and matt. It is available in neutral or high-contrast two-tone colour schemes.
Croquis de tigre, taken from one of painter Robert Dallet’s sketches, depicts the profile and portrait of a majestic tiger. The elegant cotton-silk jacquard perfectly complements the animal’s natural beauty. The satin weave background is available in three rich, deep hues to offer the perfect contrast for the tiger’s powerful presence. These sketches, placed across the width of the fabric, could be used for upholstery so as for cushions.
Fermoir H evokes the subtle and close-fitting clasp. In this jacquard interpretation, the outlines of the links elegantly adorn a twill background. This classic geometrical pattern in cotton and viscose reconciles durability and sophistication in a range of seven colour schemes.
Jungle Life’s repeating pattern depicts the jungle surrounding the big cats in love from the now iconic Jungle Love silk scarf designed by Robert Dallet in 2000. The design brings to life an imaginary world of luxuriant vegetation. Jungle Life is printed on a graceful heavy silk twill that is new to the collection. It perfectly symbolises Hermès’s creative approach and renders the print even more stunning in three variations, each with 21 colours.
A contemporary interpretation of the iconic Chaine d’Ancre. The striated rings evoke motor racing tracks
Pierre Marie Agin plays with ribbons which uncoil and escape from their coils. They find their way into the complex interplay of concentric circles and geometric games in the ribbon factory. Mixes of warps and wefts, and yarn crossing reveal a palette of precious colors in subtle shades of changing effects.
This original drawing from Jeff Fischer recalls coastal flora in a medallion composition. The vegetal patterns with colors patinated by the fresh air reflect pallets of grass, algae and sea water. The quality of the linen support and the regularity of the threads allow a perfect gouache effect and provide a particular smooth feel to the fabric.
The world of fantasy and travel, very important in the Hermès tradition, presented in a cotton print by Philippe Dumas
Inspired by the eponymous silk scarf created by Christine Henry in 2010, Arbre de vie is printed using the rare and exacting technique of warp printing before weaving. This exceptional 100% silk version transcends history with a radical change of scale. Emerald green dominates, plunging into a monsoon of lush, exaggerated greenery.
The iconic sailor motif revisited by Anamorphée plays out in a two-tone checked pattern developped in a contempory spirit. Reversible, this fabric with bright or marine colors is matched with Rayures Rocabar material. Water-repellent treated.
1) The famous fashion house was founded in 1837 by German-born French-raised Thierry Hermès.
2) Hermès began as a small harness workshop in Paris, which was dedicated to serving European noblemen, creating luxury harnesses and bridles for horse-drawn carriages. The Hermès logo is a royal carriage and a horse.
3) Thierry Hermès’ son, Charles-Émile Hermès, took over the management of the business and moved the shop in 1880 to 24 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré – where its flagship boutique still remains today.
4) Under new leadership and with fresh premises, Hermès introduced saddle manufacturing for the first time and began retail sales.
5) With the help of his sons Adolphe and Émile-Maurice, Charles-Émile grew the business’ global reach catering to Europe’s elite, with customers as far afield as North Africa, Russia, Asia and America, then in 1900 the firm introduced the Haut à Courroies handbag, which was specially designed for riders to carry their saddles with them.
6) Once Charles-Émile retired, the two sons renamed the business Hermès Frères and by 1914 had employed 80 saddle craftsmen due to huge demand, particularly from officials in Russia. The duo began using zips on their leather goods and were the first to introduce the device in France.
7) In the 1920s Émile-Maurice launched the firm’s first accessories collection and in 1922 the brand’s debut leather handbag was produced after his wife complained that she could not find a suitable one to her liking.
8) A decade later, the luxury label launched its Sac à dépêches bag (later renamed the Kelly) and in 1937 introduced its signature headscarves for the first time. The Queen is a firm favourite of the colourful silk designs.
9) In 1949, the same year as the launch of the Hermès silk tie, the first perfume, Eau d’Hermès, was produced.
10) Jean-Louis Dumas (great-great-grandson of Thierry Hermès) took over as the new head of the company in 1951.
11) After a commercial lull in the ‘70s, Dumas then concentrated on silk and leather goods, as well as revamped ready-to-wear, and the company’s fortunes began to turn after he modernised the business.
12) Dumas had nerve and put faith in new designers, hiring the unconventional Martin Margiela as creative director in 1997, and Jean-Paul Gaultier to replace him in 2003. The company was valued at £9.2billion at the time of his death in 2010.
13) Hermès kicked off the craze for naming handbag styles after celebrities. In 1956 a picture of Grace Kelly showed the silver screen icon using her Hermès Sac à dépêches bag to shield herself from a scrum of paparazzi photographers and so the style was renamed the Kelly. Each Kelly bag, like most Hermès designs, takes from 12 up to 18 hours to make.
14) But by far the most famous, and most collected design, is the Birkin, named after British sex kitten Jane. After a chance encounter on a plane with Dumas in the early ‘80s, the actress told him how her Kelly bag wasn’t big enough for everyday use, so they dreamt up a new design together and the Birkin was born.
15) A Hermès Birkin bag will set you back anything from £5,400 to a cool £100,000 in exotic skins such as saltwater crocodile, and its allure is further enhanced since the style isn’t available to buy instantly. Instead, you have to join an elite waiting list that can allegedly last years.
16) Hermès celebrated its 178th birthday this year
When I first moved to Charlotte, I was fortunate to land an internship at Circa Interiors & Antiques. Little did I know that this design firm would become such an important start to my career and that I would always be proud to be a part of the extended Circa family. Each designer I have worked for has had their own style…from how they create to how they interact with their clients and employees. Cindy Smith taught me so many invaluable lessons about running a business from the originality of the design process to always making the clients feel heard, understood and valued. She has been someone I have always looked up to and I was thrilled to interview her about what makes her “tick” and her creative process. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did!
I spent a summer in France and it changed my perspective on life. We lived in farmhouse and my French family took great care to make the most simple moments special. Great care and attention was paid to every detail from setting the table to preparing the meal, from how a napkin was folded to how flowers were arranged. It has stayed with me and inspired my lifestyle.
My mother was very influential to my aesthetic. She was a consummate hostess…she always had an open door policy and made everyone feel welcome. She also made everything beautiful, no matter how simple it was.
Forty six years ago I moved to Charlotte as a young bride and taught school. I started taking antique classes from local legend Ruth Scott and went to auctions and flea markets on the weekends. I began selling objects out of my home when my children were little. When we outgrew that, Circa was created with with two friends. We sold upholstery and antiques out of a small bungalow. When our doors opened, we sold out of everything right away! We were very fortunate with our timing….Charlotte was growing and everyone was ready for a new look and items from abroad. My mother had warned me, “Honey, what are you going to do if this is successful”
I create a blank slate in my mind and try to think of what I envision the final interior to be. It is more about the mood than the actual pieces at first. In my downtime, I scour old historical design and architecture books and always try to incorporate vintage textiles to give a room a little bit of soul.
Working on the upcoming Catbird furniture collection. I had been seeing voids in the marketplace for pieces that could truly inspire a room. Everything is machine produced and created for mass appeal. I had been yearning for a new challenge and struggling with what I wanted the collection to be. My dear friend Bobby McAlpine encouraged me to “Open my mind to the universe and stop putting on the brakes.” I took a weekend to reflect and the idea finally came to me to do a collaborative collection with people I admire. All of the creators are members of my tribe!
When I was first getting started, I was hired to do a house for a client who was on a three month trip around the world. They had an unlimited budget, but it all had to be complete upon their return.
We have a great group of designers and we are always looking for ways to enhance our business. We are looking forward to creating more great interior design projects, upcoming special events, and the launch of Catbird in March.
For being a good mother, grandmother and an honest, caring employer and designer. for being more interested in the relationships than in the bottom line.
Travel, read, expose your senses, know the market inside and out, be passionate about your work. It is a tough business and you have to love it!
Rose Tarlow for her clear voice, Bunny Williams for her kindest and versatility, Bobby McAlpine for his originality and support, and John Saladino for his unique modern perspective on design.
I love working with clients who have their own sense of style, who know what they want and like, are educated and have clear needs.
Travel and buying for Circa. You have to be little bit “touched” to get up at 4 in the morning in the freezing cold French countryside for the thrill of the hunt!
Being at Lake Martin mopping floors with six laughing grandchildren underfoot
Tabletop everything! Glass, textiles, Victorian coconut bowls lined in silver
An indescribable shade of green only found in nature
It is all about the details! Highlighting doors with dark colors, custom nailhead designs, unusual finishing details on drapery and upholstery. I am always looking at things to see how I can tweak them and make them a little bit different.
Be sure to check out the Circa design blog for upcoming events in Charlotte and Birmingham as well as the launch of their upcoming Catbird Collection!