Tag Archives: Hermes

Exhibitions in Singapore: Aloft at Hermès presents ‘Oneness’ by mixed media artist Kim Minjung

Kim Minjung, ‘Red mountain’, 2015, watercolour on mulberry Hanji paper

Kim Minjung, ‘Red mountain’, 2015, watercolour on mulberry Hanji paper

The peculiar sensation that unfolds when encountering Kim Minjung’s mixed media work comes from the realisation that these flat surfaces are in fact three-dimensional constructs. They are layers of paper that have been painstakingly built one atop the other, each small piece hand-cut and burnt along the edges or perforated with holes using a lit incense stick. Kim has made this paper layering technique her signature since 1998, and soon thereafter also began layering ink or watercolours in her paintings. The stained edges of each painted layer appear like actual layers, imbuing the paintings with a physicality that is entirely illusory.

East Asian painting prescribes that every brushstroke should embody the spiritual essence and vitality of the subject, and balance space and presence to create a unified whole. The expression of nothingness to make a whole perhaps finds its best articulation in Kim’s ‘Mountain’ series, with paintings made from the repetition of a single undulating stroke. The resulting image hovers between non-representation and monumental forms evocative of its subject matter. Guided by the fundamental Taoist principle of attaining equilibrium between Yin and Yang, void and fullness, ‘Mountain’ captures the Taoist beliefs that lie at the heart of Kim’s practice.

Born in 1962, Gwangju, South Korea, Kim Minjung studied Oriental painting at Hongik University in Seoul, the country’s foremost arts institution. Her Master’s thesis focused on the four material elements of ink painting: paper, brush, ink and inkstone. In 1991 she moved to Italy to study modern Western artists who had drawn influence from Eastern art, such as Franz Kline and Paul Klee. What these Western artists and East Asian painting shared was a belief that gesture and form held profound spiritual and expressive value. This shared belief underpins Kim’s artistic practice of combining Western collage techniques and use of colour with the metaphysical approach of East Asian art.

Kim Minjung, ‘The street’, 2015, mixed media on mulberry Hanji paper

Kim Minjung, ‘The street’, 2015, mixed media on mulberry Hanji paper

Nevertheless, it is the Korean aesthetic philosophy of Dansaekhwa that is most prominently reflected in her works. The methodical, labour-intensive mode of art it advocates is echoed in Kim’s time-consuming layering technique. Dansaekhwa, or Monochrome Painting, was a key artistic movement in Korea during the 1970s to 1980s that today is the focus of much international interest. Its proponents regarded form, materiality and repetitive process as a means to distill a Korean aesthetic essence. Korean Hanji paper, Korean pigments and earthy colours recalling the Korean landscape and traditional buildings were used in pursuit of this goal.

More than a quarter century since Kim left Korea, she continues to use only Korean ink and Korean mulberry Hanji paper, which she likens to her own skin. Her choice of materials reflects her deep sense of home longing and rootedness in Korean identity. It is thus apt that for the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès art space Aloft, the first artist exhibited in 2017 under the theme ‘Reflection’ is Kim Minjung.

Dedicated to explorations in contemporary art, Aloft is one of five international art spaces under the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, which supports the creative talents of individuals and organisations. Each year, Aloft presents a themed exhibition series featuring new work by two artists. Presently in its tenth year, this year’s theme ‘Reflection’ is an invitation to both remember the past and ruminate on the future. Art Republik speaks with Kim Minjung about her work and artistic journey, and her views on the role of art today.

The artist Kim Minjung

The artist Kim Minjung

Both your painted and mixed media work are like a palimpsest of time and effort, with their extensive build up of layers. In relation to the theme “Reflection”, of looking back to the past, back in time. Could you explain how you approached the paintings?

The ‘Mountain’ series is especially meditative and philosophical. Years ago, while I was staying near a cliff at a seaside town, I heard sounds of waves all the time. I began to visualise the sound of waves. I started thinking of the origin of sea and nature because when god created them, he formed them in ways that have been unchanged through time. When I paint in layers, I have to wait for each layer to be completely dry. The motion is repeated again and again, just as how nature is eternal and infinite. Unexpectedly, I realised that when the layers are disassembled, they look like the sea but when assembled, they recall mountains. The sea, mountains, land and even man was one at the beginning of world.

On looking back, as an artist whose formative years occurred during the militarisation, democratic uprising, and clash of social realist and abstract art in South Korea, how have those events shaped your practice?

My practice is generally about my personal narrative, which has been largely affected by Korea’s socio-political issues. I left Korea in 1992 and have lived mostly in Italy, but the period from 1960 to the 1990s when I lived in Korea was a time of fevered democratic movements and dramatic economic growth. Many of my generation in Korea suffered from the huge changes we experienced. When I was in art college during the 1980s, student activism was rife. Many artists joined the ‘Minjung art’ or ‘People’s art’ movement against government militarisation, demanding democracy. At the same time, Dansekhwa and avant-garde performance art by senior artists was also developing.

However, artists are creators, not reporters. Some feel that good art is art that directly reflects the world and provokes, but I do not think that is art. Traditionally, artists served as a bridge connecting god and man. We have to create something new, not report what is happening.

Kim Minjung, ‘Dobae' (detailed view), 2015, mixed media on mulberry Hanji paper

Kim Minjung, ‘Dobae’ (detailed view), 2015, mixed media on mulberry Hanji paper

Your aesthetics and philosophical approach recall Dansaekhwa, in particular the work of leading Dansaekhwa painters Park Seo Bo, Chung Chang Sup and Chung Sang Hwa. You were studying painting while Dansekhwa was emerging in the 1970s and 1980s. How did it impact your artistic development?

My university professors were now-established Dansaekhwa masters, so naturally they influenced me. Dansaekhwa itself looks very flat and minimalist but it is fundamentally about repeating acts of labour and the process of painting. It has a profound depth, and is completely different from Western Minimalism. Similarly, through repetition, I empty my mind and I meditate throughout my actions. Dansaekhwa may look like a very calm and peaceful aesthetic but it indirectly conveys the very powerful and provocative statement that simplicity or clarity can be derived from repeated action. In the context of Korea’s chaotic socio-political situation during the time, Dansaekhwa represented a form of escapism and speaking out.

Do you thus see your practice as somewhat continuing the Dansaekhwa mentality?

Yes and no. Obsessively repeating certain motions, such as painting layers, collaging papers, burning papers, is very like Dansaekhwa. I often hear my work called post-Dansaekhwa though, and I have never intended that. The subject of my practice has always been my own personal history and its changing narrative. It is more about my longing for home since I migrated to Italy; my practice is almost like my life’s series of encounters and farewells. The Korean traditional papers and inks are the best materials I can use to express my story and identity. Ultimately, I cannot really say that Dansaekhwa is a direct influence on my work but as I grew up with it and was taught by Dansaekhwa masters, it is difficult for me to ascertain.

Could you share with me more about your choice of colours and its significance in the ‘Mountain’ series? Black and red are very primal, sensual colours that contrast from the muted colour palette of your mixed media works.

The concept of colour is simply the retina’s perception of light, it is not an important issue to me at all. Without light, everything is black and white. The mountains in the series are imaginary mountains. In fact, they could be ocean waves. It is the abstract object of my imagination; hence I do not feel the need to paint in particular colours. Visually, red is the strongest colour, followed by black. I wanted to examine the two types of colours on the ‘Mountain’ series. I experimented with other colours but red had the greatest clarity of expression.

Kim Minjung, 'Red mountain', 2016, watercolour on mulberry Hanji paper

Kim Minjung, ‘Red mountain’, 2016, watercolour on mulberry Hanji paper

The serenity of your aesthetics is strongly juxtaposed against the world in crisis today. It also contrasts with the emotionally, politically charged art that is increasingly emerging. Your striving for equilibrium between void and fullness evokes the Taoist concept of non-action, the “effortless doing within the flow of things”. Laozi said that the state of non-action enables a return to harmonious things. Do you think that your work, or art, can still achieve that today?

I am pretty sure it can. I believe that gentleness and quietude send stronger messages than loud action. There are three ways of practising art: the first is to speak out directly, the second is indirect expression, and the third is escaping from the reality. We may now live with political conflict, poverty, and terrorism but there has never been a peaceful era in all of human history. Political works analyse what is directly happening now and I know that such art plays an important role. However, I occasionally feel confused about the difference between art and journalism. In my opinion, art should give pleasure and emphasize emotion, whether bad or good, to its viewer, especially in chaotic situations. That is why most people look at, and to art. My art may look very peaceful and tend to concept of non-action as you said, but I live in the same world as everyone. I do not think every artist needs to speak in the same language; I respond to the world, just in my own language.

Have these contemporary issues affected how you think about your practice? If so, how?

To be honest, I do not take the term “contemporary” seriously. We should not have to deliberately think about contemporaneity; contemporary means the time and space we are all living in now! I am conscious of all the issues currently surrounding me, naturally. I read the news everyday and am constantly checking it all the time. My friends and I sometimes discuss and critique these issues but I do not want them to be directly reflected in my work. The issues I choose to reflect in my practice are always first filtered by my personal perspective and artistic language.

‘Oneness’ will be shown at Aloft at Hermès at Liat Towers, from April 27 to July 30.

This article was written by Rachel Ng and originally published in Art Republik.

Grisaille enamel painting for Van Cleef & Arpels’s Midnight Nuit Boréale

Six Enamelling Techniques used for luxury watch making, from Patek Philippe to Cartier, Hermès and more

Enamelling at Swiss watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne

Enamelling at Swiss watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne

Enamelling is a tedious process, to put it mildly. The raw material must first be ground into a fine powder, then mixed with a suitable medium (oils or water are both used) to form a paint-like emulsion. This liquid is then applied like paint, before being fired in a kiln to vitrify it the medium evaporates, while the powder melts and fuses into glass. There are variations to these steps, of course. Some manufactures, for example, choose to sieve the power directly onto a base of either brass or gold, and fire this “layer” of powder directly. Whatever the process, every step is fraught with danger. The product may crack during the firing process. Unseen impurities may surface as imperfections. Colours may react in unexpected ways. There are numerous risks to endure. Why, then, does this technique continue to be used in watchmaking?

Despite all its drawbacks, enamel still has a depth and nuance that cannot be replicated anywhere else. It is also permanent vitrified enamel is essentially inert and, like noble metals, remains unchanged even a century from now. Different enamelling techniques are capable of creating a wide spectrum of products as well, from a single large surface free of blemishes, to microscopic levels of detail as part of a painting. Perhaps the romantic aspect of this metiers d’art also accounts for part of its appeal; the time and touch of the enamellist is the perfect counterpoint to the watchmaker, with art on one side and science on the other.

Variations on a Theme

Enamels are fired at various temperatures or not at all depending on their types. Grand feu (literally “great fire”) enamel is fired at around 820 degrees Celsius, although intermediate firings to “set” it may be at around 100 degrees Celsius, to boil the solvent off without fusing the powder. Enamels in general, including those used in miniature painting, may also be fired at around 100 degrees Celsius instead. Finally, there is cold enamel, an epoxy resin that cures and hardens at room temperature.

There are no hard and fast rules to the craft; every enamellist has his/her own materials and approach

There are no hard and fast rules to the craft; every enamellist has his/her own materials and approach

What difference does it make? For a start, higher temperatures are definitely more difficult to work with, since the enamel may crack during firing, or the subsequent cooling down process. The spectrum of colours used in grand feu enamelling is also more limited, as there are fewer compounds that can withstand the temperature. The choice of technique boils down to the desired product for all its drawbacks, grand feu enamel has an inimitable look.

Seiko’s Presage SRQ019 chronograph with white enamel dial

Seiko’s Presage SRQ019 chronograph with white enamel dial

Enamels, porcelains, and lacquers all share common properties of hardness, durability, and the ability to take on both matte and polished finishes. The three aren’t interchangeable though. Lacquer is an organic finish that is applied in layers, with each successive coat curing at room temperature before the next is added. Porcelain is a ceramic that is produced by firing materials in a kiln to vitrify them. Although enamel is also fired, it only contains glass and colouring compounds and lacks porcelain’s clay content.

Raised Fields

In champlevé enamelling, a thick dial base is engraved to create hollow cells, before these cavities are filled with enamel and fired. Because the engraving step produces rough surfaces at the bottom of each cell, the champlevé technique typically uses only opaque enamels. The method allows areas on the dial to be selectively excavated, and for enamels to be mixed freely within each dial. This is done to great effect in Piaget’s Emperador Coussin XL Large Moon Enamel watch, where the gold dial is largely untouched for the “continents”, while the “oceans” are created in champlevé enamel, with differing shades of blue to convey their varying depths.

An excavated cell in Ulysse Nardin’s Classico Goat being filled with enamel using the champlevé technique

An excavated cell in Ulysse Nardin’s Classico Goat being filled with enamel using the champlevé technique

Champlevé enamelling’s use isn’t limited to creating decorative art. In Parmigiani Fleurier’s Tecnica Ombre Blanche, for instance, it was simply the most appropriate technique. Although the timepiece has a simple white enamel dial, its surface is interrupted by three sub-dials and an aperture for the tourbillon. Using champlevé enamelling here allowed each dial element to have a clearly defined border without adding unnecessary thickness. A possible alternative would be to make a complete enamel dial, before cutting out the appropriate sections in the middle. One can, however, imagine the risks of doing that.

Patek Philippe’s Ref. 6002 combines champlevé and cloisonné enamelling

Patek Philippe’s Ref. 6002 combines champlevé and cloisonné enamelling

Is there a limit to the level of details that can be achieved with champlevé enamel? Patek Philippe may have the answer with the Ref. 6002 Sky Moon Tourbillon. Apart from the centre portion, which is produced using the cloisonné technique (discussed later), its dial is a work of champlevé enamel even the railway track chapter ring was milled out in relief, before the recesses are filled with enamel and fired.

Engraving isn’t necessarily the only way to produce the cells used in champlevé enamel though. Hublot puts a modern twist on things with the Classic Fusion Enamel Britto, by stamping the white gold dial base to create the raised borders between the cells. This not only reduces the time needed for each dial but also ensures uniformity between them. Subsequent steps, however, remain unchanged the cells were sequentially filled with different colours of enamel and fired multiple times before the entire dial surface is polished to form a uniformly smooth surface.

Wire Work

Cloisonné enamelling is almost like the opposite of the champlevé technique instead of removing material from a dial blank, things are added on it instead. The “cloisons” (literally “partitions”) here refer to the wires, each no thicker than a human hair, that the enamellist bends into shape and attaches onto a base to create enclosed cells. These cells are then filled with enamel of different colours before the dial is fired to fuse the powder. The wires remain visible in the final product, and look like outlines of a drawing, with a metallic sheen that contrasts with the glassy surfaces of the enamel.

Wires are shaped and attached to a dial to form cells, before enamel is painted in

Wires are shaped and attached to a dial to form cells, before enamel is painted in

Plique-à-jour (“letting in daylight”) enamel can be considered a variation of cloisonné enamel, but the technique is a lot rarer owing to its complexity and fragility. Like its cloisonné sibling, plique-à-jour enamelling involves creating enclosed cells using wires, before filling them with enamel. In this case, however, there is no base. The lack of a backing can be achieved in various ways, but usually involves working on a base layer à la cloisonné enamelling, before filing it away to leave just the wires holding onto vitrified enamel. Since there is no base, plique-à-jour enamelling almost always involves transparent or translucent enamel that allows light through, which essentially creates tiny stained glass windows.

A dial in cloisonné enamel is in the making

A dial in cloisonné enamel is in the making

Van Cleef & Arpels has used the above technique to great effect. In the Lady Arpels Jour Nuit Fée Ondine watch, a 24-hour module rotates a graduated lower dial once a day to mimic Earth’s diurnal rhythm, while an upper dial with elements executed in plique-à-jour enamel forms the foreground. The watch thus creates an ever-changing scene that mimics the rising and setting of the sun and moon, with the appropriate shades of blue for the sky and water, depending on the time of the day.

Hybrid Theory

There are several “hybrid” techniques that combine enamelling with other decorative arts, and flinqué enamelling is arguably the best known given its long history of use. The technique combines guillochage with enamelling a brass or gold dial is first decorated with guilloché, before layers of enamel are successively applied and fired. When this enamel coating is sufficiently thick, it is polished to create a smooth surface; the final result is a translucent lens through which the guilloché is admired. Depending on the desired effect, the enamel used may be colourless to impart a subtle sheen, or coloured for more visual oomph, like the trio of limited edition Rotonde de Cartier high complications unveiled at Watches & Wonders 2015. Vacheron Constantin has even adapted the technique by using guilloché patterns to mimic woven fabrics in the Métiers d’Art Elégance Sartoriale.

Enamel being applied to the engraved white gold base on the Hermès Arceau Tigre

Enamel being applied to the engraved white gold base on the Hermès Arceau Tigre

Developed by the husband-and-wife team of Olivier and Dominique Vaucher, shaded enamel (email ombrant) also involves the application of translucent enamel over an engraved dial. Instead of a regular pattern à la guilloché, however, shaded enamel entails the creation of an image in relief. In the Hermès Arceau Tigre, the likeness of the animal is first carved into a white gold base, before translucent black enamel is applied and fired. A thicker layer of enamel accumulates in areas where the engraving is deeper and appears darker as a result the shading corresponds to the depth of the enamel, which creates an extremely lifelike product.

Cartier Ballon Bleu de Cartier Enamel Granulation with Panther Motif

Cartier Ballon Bleu de Cartier Enamel Granulation with Panther Motif

The final technique here is Cartier’s enamel granulation, which combines enamelling with Etruscan granulation originally used by goldsmiths. The craft requires multiple steps and is extremely tedious, to say the least. Enamel is first worked into threads of different diameters before these threads are chipped off bit by bit to form beads of various sizes. The beads are then sorted by colour and applied to the dial successively to assemble an image, with intermediate firings to set and fuse the enamel. As different colours of enamel fuse at different temperatures, there is a clearly defined order for the assembly process; up to 30 firings are necessary, and each dial requires nearly a month to complete. Like shaded enamel, enamel granulation is a very recent development, and Cartier has only used it on one watch so far: the Ballon Bleu de Cartier Enamel Granulation with Panther Motif.

Metallic Content

Paillonné is among the rarest enamelling techniques today and practically synonymous with Jaquet Droz, which has maintained its expertise in this area. The manufacture currently has two full-time enamellists who don’t just produce enamel dials but also train artisans to perpetuate this know-how.

A paillon being applied to the coloured enamel “base”

A paillon being applied to the coloured enamel “base”

The “paillon” here refers to the small ornamental motifs that are created from gold leaf, and are the calling card of the technique. Essentially, paillonné enamelling involves setting paillons within enamel to form patterns, with regular geometric ones being the norm. To do so, a layer of coloured enamel is first fired to set it. Upon this layer, the paillons are positioned, before translucent enamel is applied and fired, thus “locking” the paillons in. Additional steps can be taken to create even more intricate designs. Before the coloured enamel layer is applied, for instance, the substrate surface may first be decorated with guilloché, which basically creates flinqué enamel that is then decorated with paillons over it. According to Jaquet Droz’s CEO Christian Lattmann, the textured base doesn’t just offer visual benefits but also helps the initial layer of coloured enamel to “stick” better. Lattmann also revealed that the choice of white or red gold as this base will impart a different tone to the finished product as well both because of its inherent colour and because of how the guillochage plays with light.

A watch from Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection, with applied precious metal powders on the enamelled surface

A watch from Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection, with applied precious metal powders on the enamelled surface

In lieu of regular patterns, Jaeger-LeCoultre opted for a twist on the technique, by distributing flecks of silver randomly on the dial instead. The result can be seen in the Hybris Artistica Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Enamel, whose enamel dial mimics the look of lapis lazuli. This technique was also used for the second dial of the Reverso One Duetto Moon.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Duetto Moon

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Duetto Moon

While not paillonné enamelling per se, Vacheron Constantin’s use of hand applied precious powder deserves a mention here. In the manufacture’s Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières timepieces, gold, platinum, diamond, and pearl powders are affixed to the surface of the enamel dial by Japanese enamel artisan Yoko Imai. Instead of being covered with a layer of enamel, these particles sit atop them, and catch the light variously to mimic a bird’s eye view of a city at night.

Brush Strokes

Enamel painting is simply painting with enamel pigments rather than some other medium. The technique is challenging not just due to the canvas’s size, which makes it miniature painting as well, but also because of the multiple firings needed to vitrify and set the enamels, colour by colour. Given the level of detail that can be achieved, however, this is one of the few techniques that are capable of making their subjects almost lifelike. Consider Slim d’Hermès Pocket Panthère, which has the eponymous animal rendered in this technique, for example. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso à Eclipse also showcases what enamel painting is capable of with its uncanny facsimile of Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait as a Painter on its dial.

Slim d’Hermès Pocket Panthère being painted. Image © Pierre-William Henry

Slim d’Hermès Pocket Panthère being painted. Image © Pierre-William Henry

Grisaille enamel can be considered a subset of enamel painting, and is a specific method of painting white on black to create monochromic imagery. The black canvas is grand feu enamel that must first be applied, fired, and then polished to create a perfectly smooth surface that’s free of imperfections. This preparatory step is, in and of itself, already very challenging, as minute flaws are extremely easy to spot on such a surface this explains why most watch brands offer white enamel dials, but black onyx or lacquer dials instead of enamel. Upon this black canvas, the enamellist paints using Blanc de Limoges, which is a white enamel whose powder is more finely ground than normal. To create micro details, fine brushes, needles, and even cactus thorns are used, and the dial is painted and fired multiple times to create the nuanced paintings grisaille enamel is known for.

Grisaille enamel painting for Van Cleef & Arpels’s Midnight Nuit Boréale

Grisaille enamel painting for Van Cleef & Arpels’s Midnight Nuit Boréale

Owing to its complexity, grisaille enamel is rarely seen. There are brands that still offer metiers d’art watches with them though, sometimes with their own take on the technique. In its Métiers d’Art Hommage à l’Art de la Danse collection, Vacheron Constantin opted to use translucent brown enamel for the dial base to impart a greater sense of depth, while softening the contrast between the two colours. Van Cleef & Arpels used a midnight blue base in its Midnight Nuit Boréale and Nuit Australe timepieces instead, to evoke the night sky.

This article was originally published in WOW.

Art exhibition in Singapore: ‘Smart Objects’ by Le Gentil Garçon explores the human psyche at Hermès Liat Towers

The human psyche influences almost every aspect of our life. From human emotions to our responses to the environment, this influences our lives from an early stage. French artist Julien Amouroux who works under the name Le Gentil Garçon has chosen to use the human psyche as the main focus for his latest exhibition that is showcased at Hermés Liat Towers.

The exhibition, ‘Smart Objects’, is a playful take on the subject matter and even has sees a schematic human head that stands at the main window of the store. The sculpture resembles a paper cut out that is folded in an intricate way that allows it to stand upright. Within, the Lyon-based artist has sectioned off areas of the head to resemble “cells” that are similar to what is found on a phrenology map. Each compartment showcases an Hermès object that is linked to small characters which as said to evoke the cerebral zones linked with poetry and humour.

The artist drew inspiration for his work from not one but several sources to create an insightful exhibition. The first is most obviously the busts that are used in the pseudomedical study of phrenology while also highlighting elements of 17th century “mechanist representations” of the mind. The final source of inspiration comes from the illustrations that German doctor, popular science writer and infographics pioneer, Fritz Kahn, used to elaborate on complex scientific ideas.

“I realised that this idea of a playful representation of the human mind matched very well with the Hermés theme of this year: Sense of the Object. Any manufactured object is the result of a though, the materialisation of it. Concerning Hermès products, this thought is both linked to the memory and to the life of the creator of the company, and to a historic know-how” said the artist. He added “…Hermès products often hide very smart and fun tricks that you won’t discover at the first glance…We can say that they are smart objects, they’re the expression of a certain sense of both elegance and intelligence.”

The ‘Smart Objects’ exhibition will be on display from March 17 to June 2017 at the Hermès store at Liat Towers Singapore.

Exhibitions in Singapore: Hermès houses artist Takashi Kuribayashi’s ‘Resonance of Nature’

Takashi Kuribayashi's ‘Resonance of Nature’ for Hermès Singapore

Hermès Singapore’s flagship store’s show window at Liat Towers displays Takashi Kuribayashi’s ‘Resonance of Nature’ till March 2017.

“The truth resides in places that are invisible. Once you are aware that there is a different world out of sight, you will be living in a different way,” says Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Kuribayashi, who reminds us of the philosophical dilemma of perception versus reality, and that the truth is only a matter of perspective.

No stranger to Singapore, Kuribayashi first visited the sunny island back in 2006 when he was invited to participate in the Singapore Biennale and Hermès Singapore’s previous Third Floor space; the former with ‘Aquarium: I feel like I am in a fishbowl’, and the latter with ‘Hermès Column’, both newly commissioned artworks. A year later in 2007, he came back again to suspend a small pond in mid-air at the entrance of the National Museum of Singapore with his work titled, ‘Kleine See’ (Small Pond). Then again in 2015, he created his unforgettably stunning and photogenic work, ‘Trees’, for Singapore Art Museum’s (SAM) ‘Imaginarium – A Voyage of Big Ideas’, which was displayed at SAM at 8Q. Now back again, Kuribayashi has created ‘Resonance of Nature’ for Hermès Singapore’s flagship store’s show window at Liat Towers, which will be on display till March 2017.

Installation view of 'Trees', at 8Q, Singapore Art Museum

Installation view of ‘Trees’, at 8Q, Singapore Art Museum.

Art Republik catches up with our issue’s cover star to find out more about borders, serendipity and Kuuki ga Shimaru.

Your work often runs a critical commentary on nature. How and when did your relationship with nature and the environment come about? Was there a key moment for you?

I was born in Nagasaki, Japan, and lived there throughout my youth. And where I lived, around my house and all my surroundings were nature — you could even say that nature inevitably became like a teacher to me. What’s interesting also is that my father was a photographer of insects so his studio was out in the open. I was constantly surrounded by nature growing up — it naturally became a huge part of me.

What is it about nature and the environment that interests you?

As you know, humans can’t live by ourselves but yet we fear what nature can do to us; over time, we’ve found ways to ‘co-exist’ with nature. Humans first created a wall to protect themselves from nature; then they wanted to get closer to integrate with nature so they made parks and gardens; and now humans are so developed and capable that they want to overtake and disrupt nature. Before, nature was bigger than humans, but now, human development has gone too far to the extent that we are destroying nature; yet, we are still oblivious to that fact.

As an artist, what are your feelings towards taking nature and putting it in a man-made and enclosed gallery space? Does the act of doing this further emphasise your philosophies, messages and stories you want to tell? Or does this boundary or contradiction disturb you in any way?

To talk about this, we have to also talk about what art is. A good example of me taking nature out of its place and putting it in a gallery space is a work I made for an exhibition at Singapore Art Museum in 2015 where I literally took a whole tree and put them in boxes in an enclosed space.

As you know, Singapore is very artificial; even most of nature here is in a way created by man. In Singapore, people try to control nature by creating parks or creating space for something else, so that tree was already removed and chopped up for such a purpose, so I put all of it into glass boxes. This is a very symbolic work. You see this as one tree, but each box has created an individual world and new cycle of life for each piece of the tree. What I’m trying to do is make people think and be aware of what’s going on – that’s what art is; it should objectively encourage questions or provide awareness of something otherwise unaware of.

Inside of myself, there are two versions, two Kuribayashis so-to-speak: one is an artist, and the other is a human being. As a human being I want to protect nature, but as an artist, I want to objectively bring to surface certain truths.

So you think that being an artist and being a human being are separate?

Imagine a time when you are sad and you’re crying, and suddenly you feel like you are looking over, watching yourself cry; that other side or other view is the artist view.

Are you a spiritual person? Do you have a strong relationship with spirituality that you translate to your work?

No, I’m not. To me, being an artist is just I questioning myself, questioning the world, questioning things… an important question is: who am I? Most people do ask themselves that growing up till maybe their teenage years, but as an artist, I continue to ask myself that even into adulthood. So now what you have to think is: I’m here, I’m existing here. And you are here right now, but based on the people you have met in the past. The relationship becomes very important – you are created by the past. It may seem spiritual but it’s not. That said, I do believe anyone who has strong belief in their own respective religions, that aspect about them is not too different from me.

You’re currently based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Why did you choose to move there?

You’re going to say this is spiritual again but in my life, I have always trusted my intuition or gut feelings. I was previously in Japan for eight years, and before that 12 years in Germany. And then as you know on March 2011 (we call 311), it was the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. At that time I was thinking of getting out of Japan again, but the Fukushima incident happened, and I felt like I should stay in Japan; so I stayed for two years and so many unexpected things ended up happening in those two years.

After that, I thought I should get out and live outside Japan again. I was thinking Brazil at first because I have a good number of friends there and I like the Brazilian art scene. So I started researching moving to Brazil but all of a sudden, people around me started saying that I should move to Indonesia instead; at the time, I didn’t know much about Indonesia. Then as I got interested in finding out more, people started saying Yogyakarta, and I wasn’t even searching for that. Then an Indonesian collector calls me to present works in Yogyakarta. Another thing is that I surf, and one of my surfing friends told me out of the blue that there is a point in Yogyakarta called Pacitan for surfers. So again, I’m now hearing Yogyakarta from just about everyone around me. That was the moment I was convinced my next move had to be to Yogyakarta. I’ve been living there for three years now.

How did the Fukushima incident affect you personally and as an artist?

Work from the series, 'Yatai Trip Project'

Work from the series, ‘Yatai Trip Project’

So the earthquake happened on 11 March 2011, and I was in Nepal in the mountains working on my ‘Yatai Trip Project’ until 10 March 2011. So on 10 March, 4,000 metres up in the mountains, pushing my Yatai food cart, I was just thinking to myself that we actually don’t need fuel energy to live. And then coming down and back to Tokyo, the incident happened. And I was back in Tokyo city still carrying all my backpacks and gear and everyone was just looking at me thinking I was so prepared but I actually just came back!

So for me, it was a chance for change. As a human being again, I was scared and should be getting far away; but as an artist, it was a chance to make something of this. As you know, my theme is borders, and the Japanese government created a 20-kilometre restricted area away from the nuclear plant, as a border. Now Japanese nuclear plants are all built near the coastlines because they require a lot of water. So while the border may extend on land, how do you create a border in the ocean? You can’t just draw a line. So as an artist, I thought, while the media focused on the 20-kilometre border on land, I would surf (yes, illegally) in the ‘restricted zone’ and highlight the unfelt or ‘invisible’ danger and damage done.

Of course, I consulted specialists and every one of them discouraged me from doing it, saying it was too dangerous. But the thing about plutonium is that it’s relatively safe to drink but not to breathe in where it will seriously damage your lungs. So if I really insisted on surfing in the restricted waters, I had to wear a protective suit with an air-filtration mask.

From afar, it looks like someone is surfing in beautiful waters. But if you look closely, that person is wearing a special wetsuit and protective mask. That’s the impact of the awareness of the message I am trying to convey. As artists, I feel it is our responsibility to report messages, almost like we are our own media outlets ourselves.

Takashi Kuribayashi, surfing in Fukushima.

Takashi Kuribayashi, surfing in Fukushima.

You’ve been working with Hermès for 10 years now. What is it you like most about working with the brand?

Hermès has the highest standard and quality about them and their products, and when incorporated with or into my work, it gives off a sense of… there is a Japanese word for this: Kuuki ga Shimaru. It directly translates to tightening the air, or not so literally, straightens your back. It’s a very unique word that would also be used, for example, when you see a glass mirror instead of an acrylic mirror, your sense can feel the seemingly invisible but obvious difference.

Can you tell us more about your latest work with Hermès Singapore, ‘Resonance of Nature’, for their window display?

The lightning is the most important aspect of ‘Resonance of Nature’. I want to show the energy and power of nature all around us, so the lightning is the best representation that connects the air to the ground and below. At the same time, that power is present no matter the backdrop, no matter the time; it may be snowing in Japan and sunny in Singapore, but that energy and power is all the same. Hence the lightning in my artwork connects everything together – nature is connected everywhere.

Also, the background of the display is made up of key photos: the sky is from Fukushima, above the nuclear power plant; the seaside is from the tsunami aftermath; and the mountain side is of Nepal, where I was at until the day before the incident. This additionally shows the connection and importance of time, that although it is just a one-day difference, nature had the sheer power to change things so much.

Do you keep in mind the ethos of Hermès when conceptualising their window displays? Or is that something that comes about coincidentally if any at all?

Amongst all the other fashion brands today, Hermès has managed to keep itself in a unique position. We are currently in the midst of the consumption culture, and there are a lot of other brands that have opened a cheaper line to stay competitive. But if say sales for Hermès declines, would they also create a more affordable range? The answer is no, they will stay true to their values and DNA. And I believe show windows are faces of a brand, so the only thing I do keep in mind is to maintain that standard and outlook when thinking of my work for them.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

I don’t believe being an artist is an occupation; it is just a way of living, a way of expressing one’s self. And what I am is simply Takashi Kuribayashi.

Takashi Kuribayashi

Takashi Kuribayashi: ‘To me, being an artist is just I questioning myself, questioning the world, questioning things…’

What’s next for you?

The upcoming year will start me off as a stage designer, joining the performance named ‘The World Conference’, directed by stage director Hiroshi Koike. Following, I will present my work at Zushi Beach Film Festival, Japan Alps Art Festival and group exhibitions in Yogyakarta. Besides that, I will continue my ‘Yatai Trip Project’, and I am also thinking of making research trips around Japan to develop new ideas for new works.

This article was first published in Art Republik.

Hermès Cape Cod collection: 4 new masculine variations join the TGM timepieces

Hermès may be known for its historical link to the equestrian world thanks to its origins as a leather goods maker but the brand is now a leading fashion house. Far from stopping at clothes and accessories, the French fashion house has also ventured into the world of watchmaking. Some of its memorable creations include the Slim d’Hermès and the Cape Cod timepieces, both of which boast timeless designs suitable for all.

Before Baselworld 2017 begins in March, the brand released a few teasers that will se the Cape Cod family expand with a few new masculine models. First created by Henri d’Origny in 1991, the new timepieces feature the Cape Cod dial in new shades such as black, anthracite and black as well as lacquered versions in red and brown. True to its heritage, Hermès offers traditional leather straps in variations that showcase its craftsmanship. We take a closer look at the four new 33mm variations that are powered by the Hermès Manufacture H1912 movement and boast a water resistant of up to 30 metres.

Cape Cod TGM Manufacture

Suitable for those who love something understated but with just a hint of uniqueness, the TGM Manufacture comes in several colours. The middle of the dial, features a stamped central décor that sets this apart from the usual Cape Cod creations. Available in blue, black, anthracite or opaline, the timepiece comes with raid Arabic numerals that are seen in coated in rhodium. Sitting at the six o’clock position, is a date display. The steel case is completed by an anti-glare treated sapphire crystal and is accompanied by leather straps that come in matt graphite alligator leather for the anthracite dial, matt black alligator leather for the black dial, matt indigo alligator leather for the blue dial and natural Barenia calf leather for the silvered dial.

Cape Cod TGM Bicolore 

This variation sees a dial that is similar to the Hermès Cape Cod GM that displays the date at the three o’clock position on the opaline-silvered dial. Much like the TGM Manufacture, the raised rhodium-plated Arabic numerals that sit around a square minute track. The crystal glare proof sapphire glass protects the dial. The TGM Bicolore stands out from the new additions thanks to its two-tone calfskin leather strap. While both variations feature Malta blue, the colour can be paired with either etoupe or Hermès red.

Cape Cod TGM Cadran Laque

There is only one difference between the dials of the TGM Bicolore and the TGM Cadran Laque. While the former features a light silvered dial, the Cadran Laque boasts a darker lacquered dial in shades of brown or red. Unlike the others, this model comes with interchangeable calfskin leather straps in either Ebony Barenia or Hermès red.

Cape Cod TGM Bracelet de force 

This variation is perfect for those who prefer a wider yet less bulky arm candy. The dial on the Bracelet de force is that of the Bicolore, complete with an opaline silver dial and square minute track. However, the bracelet strap comes in Veronese green alligator leather, black alligator leather, Natural Barenia calfskin leather and Black Barenia calfskin leather.

Actress Jojo Goh debuts her first L’Officiel Malaysia cover

Ambassador of L’Officiel Malaysia for the second year in a row and a rising star in the world of entertainment, Jojo Goh has debuted her first ever cover for the reputed magazine’s November 2016 issue.

A bonafide, ultra-edgy, sophisticated beauty (and all dressed in Hermès for the cover, watch included) that many adore, Jojo makes the perfect choice for the magazine’s “#InstaEra” issue, which highlights the rise of social media influencers from various platforms.

Shot by Malaysian photographer Chintoo and styled by L’Officiel Malaysia’s managing editor Monica Mong, Jojo shows a different side of her that many have yet to see. One that is the complete opposite to her vivacious and outgoing personality that many have to be familiar with.

Along with the exciting fashion editorial, Jojo is also interviewed by the magazine in a round of quick-fire “Finish That Sentence” game.

 

To read the interview and to see the editorial spread of Jojo Goh, visit www.lofficielmalaysia.com.

Hermes Cape Cod 25th Anniversary: Beautiful Chains

The Hermes Cape Cod watch was brought to life 25 years ago and, unlike most timepieces, makes a virtue of its youth. The designer, Henri d’Origny, envisioned a timepiece that played with shapes, placing a square within a rectangle – an aesthetic that puts on in mind of the house’s Chaîne d’ancre link. Watch collectors will be tickled to learn that d’Origny was Hermes’ silk maestro, which probably speaks to the Cape Cod’s peculiar appeal; this is a watch that wants to be worn, not tucked away in a strongbox.

In 1998, Martin Margiela (yes, that Margiela) elevated the design by adding a double-wrap strap, giving the watch an element of style for both men and women. The strap, iconic in its own right, would later be an Hermes signature called Double Tour. One may interpret this era as the adolescent phase of the watch’s life.

Now in 2016, the Hermes Cape Cod is exploring new territory with brand-new models for its 25th anniversary. First, a new mother-of-pearl dial that complements the latest gemsetting technique.

pearl

Second, interchangeable single and double wrap-around straps, now coming in a multitude of vivid shades – ranging from electric blue to iris and capucine, Veronese green, ultraviolet, and more.

cape_cod_colorama_joel-von-allmen

Third, reimagining the men’s model in a cuff-style wristband.

men

Fourth, a new white dial with a calfskin or goat skin strap, its colors contrasting with the leather texture for your aesthetic pleasure.

cap_code_red_white_joel-von-allmen

And fifth, onyx and lapis lazuli dials, a nod to the Art Deco and Bauhaus movements of the past that shaped our present-day sensibilities.

cape_cod_onyx_joel-von-allmen

Kellydoscope Exhibition By Hermès In Singapore

Hermès Kellydoscope Exhibition In Singapore

From now until October 16, shoppers at Ngee Ann City, Singapore will be able to experience a day in the life of a Hermès Kelly bag for themselves. We’re quite certain you never wondered what life as a bag would be like but getting a Kelly’s eye view of the world if certainly intriguing. Standing 12 feet high, the to-scale replica of the iconic Kelly is part of a traveling exhibition called Kellydoscope by Hermès.

Having already traveled to Hong Kong, London and Kuala Lumpur, the exhibit is one that will rock your world, literally. The interactive exhibit invites you to step inside (into the oversized Kelly) where three short films will be played as you sit on a stool fashioned after the unmistakable orange Hermès box. Make no mistake though, sitting still is not what this exhibition is about and you should prepare yourself accordingly. Just as bags are brought around in the world, experiencing lots of ups and downs, bumps and jostles, so too will you; the Kellydoscope moves around in a way that mimics the motions the bags experience in each of the three films. In terms of immersive experiences, this one is unique and somewhat unsettling even.

Carefree and charming, the short films explore the various lifestyles of a woman who owns and adores her very own Kelly bag. Explore these extraordinary moments for yourself by visiting the Kellydoscope exhibition. Only one person can experience the exhibit at a time so be prepared to wait your turn.

The Kellydoscope exhibition is located at Ngee Ann City Atrium from 10am to 9.30pm daily until October 16.

CEO of Italian design company Kartell, Claudio Luti

Sustainable Design: Improving Daily Life

Today, the design world embraces “green” and “meaningful” production more than ever. The concept dates back to the 1920s, when visionary US architect R. Buckminster Fuller advocated that “less is more” and that design should be “anticipatory” to help solve world problems.

“For both consumers and creators, interest in ‘the sustainable’ is growing each year,” said Franck Millot, director of the annual Paris Design Week – a major showcase of the latest trends in global furnishings and decoration.

“A designer doesn’t just create beautiful objects, they also think in terms of improving daily life,” he added.

French architect and designer Patrick Nadeau, a pioneer in urban hanging gardens and plant-based design, is typical of this line of thinking.

“Plants, vegetable material, with their colors, their matter, their translucence, they help create awareness, a living, evolving framework,” he said.

Nadeau received praise for an environmentally friendly social housing project in Reims, capital of Champagne.

Despite strict budget constraints, the homes were all made of wood and incorporated plants and sloping earthen walls – as well as optimal orientation – to enhance thermal insulation, lighting and harmony with nature.

Energy transition

Fuller’s notions hit home with the 1970s oil crisis. The embargo the Organization of the Petoleum Exporting Countries slapped on industrialised countries over US involvement in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War suddenly cut back supplies.

As a result, these nations began to rethink their dependency on oil. For Nadeau, the post-oil “energy transition” is also a responsibility for designers and architects.

“We must embrace these questions, if not we’ll resign ourselves to old standards rather than consider new ways of living.”

One who has taken up the challenge is Kartell, the high-end Italian design firm that has upheld plastics as a “vector” of modernity for 70 years. In April, it launched its first “biodegradable” chair made from plant-based waste and microorganisms.

“Such eco-design allows you to produce without destroying, it’s part of our strategy for the future,” Kartell president Claudio Luti told the French daily Le Monde.

The switch often involves a high-tech reinterpretation of age-old plant matter like linen fabric from flax, hemp, jute, seaweed and vetiver, an easily woven fibrous root common in Madagascar now much in demand in Europe and the United States.

Centuries ago, resistent linen was pressed in successive layers to make armour for Alexander the Great and painting canvas for the world’s great masters.

Today it is mixed with resin to produce snowboards, chairs, helmets and car doors – an eco-friendly substitute for products once reliant on fossil fuel-based carbon and plastic-based fiberglass. Similarly, tough jute is used to produce the solid hulls of boats.

Other materials find a second – often classier – life through “upcycling”, a movement to repurpose old or discarded objects so they do not add to the world’s garbage mass.

One specialist at the Paris Design Week was a Dutch firm with the motto “from waste to wonderful”. Called Rescued, it offers everything from paper chandeliers made of printshop waste to chair cushions fashioned from old blankets.

Luxury firms have also joined the trend, like Hermes whose “Petit h” laboratory recycles its high-end scraps for resale as mug holders, bracelets, even leather pinwheels.

One French designer adds modern bells and whistles such as wifi and bluetooth to big old vintage radios.

Slow design

Along with “upcycling”, another mantra these days is “Slow Design” – which took its cue from the Slow Food movement – “a holistic, sustainable approach that emphasizes the long-term benefit of products and their impact on the well-being of consumers and the planet”, said Design Week director Millot.

With “Slow Design”, “there is renewed interest in old-fashioned knowhow and craftsmanship, objects that have a history, where there is a human touch and a desire for reasonable consumption,” he said.

Millot concedes that touting ecology in what is basically a product-driven sales sector may be contradictory, but says he feels the young generation of designers are more “aware of the stakes”.

They include French industrial designer Julien Phedyaff who in 2014 created a washing machine dubbed “Unbreakable” – which won him the prestigious James Dyson award, named for the British inventor best known for his vacuum cleaners.

Designed to last a half a century, the machine comes in a kit to be put together and taken apart when parts need replacing or repairing – Phedyaff’s direct challenge to “planned obsolescence” in high-tech items and household appliances whose manufacturers are often accused of deliberately limiting the lifespan of their products.

Two years on, he is looking for partners to help commercialize his product.

Slim d’Hermès Email Grand Feu: Daily Beater

Slim d’Hermès Email Grand Feu: Daily Beater

When you look at the Slim d’Hermès Email Grand Feu, you’re looking at both fire and ice. Fire, because the enamel dial is fired in a kiln at 830°C, which is why watches with such dials are called ‘grand feu’ (great heat, literally). The ice bit is more metaphorical is it refers to the precision of crafting the in-house H1950 ultra-thin automatic movement as well as the font. Yes, graphic designer Philippe Apeloig specially crafted the font of the Arabic numerals for this watch. Take a good long look at the dial, see how those gorgeous baton hands work with the Grand Feu dial and the font, and let it grow on you.

We first saw this watch at the La Montre Hermès stand at BaselWorld this year, where by all accounts it was an unqualified success, but the appeal of it really hit home for us when we experienced the Slim d’Hermès exhibition in Singapore a couple of months ago, where the font sprang to life. The beauty of the lines might be hard to appreciate on such a small canvas as a watch dial but it is something you feel, over time. This is important because Hermès says this exquisite watch is designed to be a daily beater.

Firing of the dials. © Sandro Campardo

Firing of the dials. © Sandro Campardo

Returning to that canvas for a moment, you can’t understand the distinctive appeal of Grand Feu enamel in pictures. Ultimately, you have to see it in person. When you do that, recall that this is a three-part structure that is largely built manually, and that the beauty of the dial depends entirely on how long the artisan who fires the kilns keeps the dial exposed to heat. The resulting glaze you see here is permanent and requires no polishing – from the moment it emerges from the kiln for the final time till the end of time, its properties will not change. This of course contrasts with simple lacquer, which changes over time; a white dial like this one would slowly acquire a yellow tint.

Slim d’Hermès Email Grand Feu: Daily Beater

Specs

  • Dimensions: 39.5mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
  • Power Reserve: 42 hours
  • Movement: Automatic (micro-rotor), calibre H1950
  • Material: Rose gold (5N 750)
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Matt Havana alligator
5 Watches Bridging Art and Time

5 Watches Bridging Art and Time

The confluence between and art and time is obvious and fine watchmaking brands have certainly noticed. As we have written previously (we’ll get to it), this connection can feel forced when brands push the commercial angle too hard. Contemporary art and fine timepieces are both collectible and are regarded by auction houses and institutions such as Knight Frank as so-called investments of passion.

As Jerome De Witt, the founder of DeWitt, once told us, watches are not works of art because art is not produced for commercial reasons. Wise words and worth remembering but there are still valid links between timekeeping and art, even if there no houses of fine art the way there are houses of fine watchmaking! You might think that it is only high art and very expensive watches, perhaps limited to unique pieces, that truly share a stage but that is not quite right.

We were reminded of this when watchmaker Arbutus (whose timepieces are quite accessible) revealed a collaboration with artists for charity in Singapore. Each of these watches had hand-painted dials, making each one unique, and had a very modest price tag of S$1,800. Credit Arbutus Singapore distributor Crystal Time for this bold move.

Arbutus Of Passion and Imagination Limited Edition timepiece collection, by Lovage

Arbutus Of Passion and Imagination Limited Edition timepiece collection, by Lovage

In truth, art and mechanical timekeeping share a certain quality, the ability to transcend time itself, that is evident in the above example. On higher ground, it is also evident in the marketing campaign of the most rarefied of watchmaking names, Patek Philippe. If you’re not familiar with this campaign, well, Google it! The point is that timepieces, like art, survive makers and owners alike.

Here at Luxuo, we love watches and we also love art. With this in mind, we put together a selection of watches that tie watchmaking and art together in forms both pleasing and challenging. While we split it into five watches, there are actually six below. If you want to quibble, the inclusion of Arbutus above takes well beyond six!

Arceau-Tigre-Email-Enamel-JohannSauty-main

Hermès Arceau Tigre Watch

On the metiers d’art front this year, Hermès has unveiled the stunning Hermès Arceau Tigre, created in partnership with the husband-and-wife team of Olivier and Dominique Vaucher. The timepiece marks the first time the shaded enamel (enamel ombrant) technique is used in watchmaking, and sports the motif of a tiger in the likeness of an illustration by Robert Dallet, an artist with whom Hermès collaborated in the 1980s.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Vincent van Gogh with a Reverso watch featuring an enamel miniature of "Self-Portrait as a Painter."

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso à Eclipse Vincent Van Gogh

Swiss watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre and its iconic Reverso model pay tribute to another unmistakable star, this one from the world of art: Vincent Van Gogh. As you can see, the watch features a miniature enamel reproduction of Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait as a Painter, painstakingly crafted by the manufacture’s artisans. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso à Eclipse features a shutter mechanism that can be opened to reveal the miniature reproduction.

LM1_Silberstein_Black_Ti_Face_Hres_CMYK

MB&F LM1 Silberstein Watch

When you think about a timepiece like the MB&F LM1 Silberstein, concerns about instant gratification are rendered meaningless. The appeal here is so personal – and it really does grow on you – that we can’t imagine conventional marketing methods working well. Silberstein is a designer famed for bringing playful geometric designs to watchmaking, including three-dimensional elements such as pushers and crowns in square, triangular and round shapes.

5 Watches Bridging Art and Time Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Quaestor

Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Quaestor Watches

Parmigiani Fleurier has chosen to turn to the Land of the Rising Sun for ideas to create the two latest unique pieces in its Toric Quaestor line. The first piece features a scene dominated by the branches of a great pine tree, which is a symbol of power, vitality, and immortality in Japanese culture. The second features the dry, level landscapes of Japanese rock gardens, often simply called Zen gardens. All manner of traditional artisanal crafts were applied in the creation of these timepieces.

Richard Mille RM68-01 Kongo

Richard Mille RM68-01 Kongo Watch

The Richard Mille RM68-01 Kongo tourbillon wristwatch (top and above) marries fine watchmaking and graffiti, which is both amazing and unthinkable! Artists like Cyril ‘Kongo’ Phan are modern-day equivalents of muralists such as Diego Rivera so learning that one such artist managed to work on a canvas the size of a (large) stamp is remarkable. The entire mechanical movement has been decorated by Kongo, using specially developed paints and airbrushes.

6 Home Styles for Successful Gentlemen

As fashion and furniture continue to merge their ideals of beauty and form, homes can now dress to express their individual personalities – shaped and driven of course by the personalities and decisions of their owners. Basically, if you can sort of guess which brand is responsible for the look pictured top, you have the style chops to draw something useful from this story. So, leaving aside the admirable projects of refreshing your wardrobe or tricking out your vehicle, you might care for a bigger challenge this season. Our friends at Men’s Folio selected six different brand names to match six different personal styles. This is just the sort of thing magazine folks love to do and we thought we’d share it with you.

For an added sense of character (and better UX!), each of the suggestions is modeled on specific personalities.

The extravagant hedonistversace_home_les_etoiles_de_lamer_dining

Versace Home stays religiously true to its iconic over-style even as the lifestyle arm is brought in-house to complete the brand universe. Under the artistic direction of Donatella Versace, the ritzy collection fetes four brand new lines: Inspired by the Rosenthal-meets-Versace porcelain collection, Les Etoiles de la Mer commits to absolute opulence through precious materials such as Fiore di pesco marble, printed velvets and mercury wood, with prints awash in marine motifs; Vasmara evokes wildlife exoticism with leopard and zebra print decors; futuristic Gvardian is defined by clean lines and a neutral palette, with a carbon fibre table top conveying spacey visual and tactile effect; finally, the established Via Gesù Palazzo Empire range is expanded with a one-of-a-kind sky blue nubuck sofa shaped in the defining “V” of the brand. Standing out from the christened collections is the new climate-proof aluminum chair Mesedia. Crafted in the image of Versace’s unmistakable Medusa head, Mesedia is emblematic of the new Home collection and is available in five colours that remind of shifting skies: Haze, storm, cloud, purple sunset and sunrise.

Versace Home

The sensitive homebody_bcd5174-tissus-et-papiers-peints

They say home is where your heart is set in stone; is where you go when you’re alone (that there’s some catchy lyrics from Gabrielle Aplin’s 2013 hit single, “Home”). In any case, if home is truly where your heart lies, then no doubt you’ll be a fan of Hermès’ latest home collection inspired by the ideal of the home as shelter for body and mind. Under the aegis of artistic directors Charlotte Perelman and Alexis Fabry, the home is transformed into a refuge of relaxation with simple yet elegant touches. Different threads of the collection — ranging from the re-edited Oria chairs by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo to the showpiece Sellier sofa demonstrating the equestrian heritage of the Maison — collectively address the theme of balance, which Hermès believes thrives and reigns in enclosed spaces. This balancing act is also cleverly propagated in the Équilibre d’Hermès assembly of desk and decorative accessories, consisting of a harmonious blend of functional and whimsical pieces: A magazine rack in the form of a horse saddle, an icosahedron paperweight, a magnifying glass held in perfect equipoise atop a conical base.

Hermès

The space rockerdiesel-living-at-salone-del-mobile-2016-3                                                                            

Imagine serving your favourite pasta on Venus, or scooping ice cream from moon craters — if you’re obsessed with astronomy and the stars, you’re in for a treat. For 2016, Diesel Living parades its latest collaboration with Italian design brand Seletti in its Cosmic Diner tableware line. Inspired by the universe, the heavenly (as close as it gets) collection comprises of porcelain plates representing the planets of the solar system, a Starman vase, salt and pepper grinders in the shape of rockets, as well as meteorite glasses to end the poetic set up. The collaboration with Seletti is among five ongoing projects that Diesel Living has going on, including Moroso for furniture, Foscarini for lighting, Iris Ceramica for ceramic tiling, and Scavolini for a new kitchen concept. The Moroso and Foscarini collections illustrate Diesel’s individualistic lifestyle with industrial design and rock styling, while the Diesel Open Workshop Kitchen with Scavolini celebrates the ethos of “Come in, we’re open!” with an open-concept social kitchen the builds on the brand’s creativity and free expression.

Diesel Living

The ethereal minimalistarmani-casa-store-in-corso-venezia-14_06-by-davide-lovatti

Unlike those of us who express our feelings through intense rituals — entire mornings spent painting, shouting out at open seas, retail therapy on useless junk — designer Giorgio Armani conveys his thoughts in a more refined manner. More often than not, he translates his obsessions into an elegant collection of timeless creations, and judging from his latest set for Armani/Casa, it’s pretty clear his current fixation is on light. The Time Of Lightness experiments with the notion of light and how its interplay (through shadows and reflections) can transform regular architecture into irregular elements, with Armani putting this sophistication into the perspective of minimalism and simplicity. The collection is gratifyingly considerate, keeping in mind all aspects of one’s lifestyle. It first offers a selection of tables — the Luna rotating table, Lewis oval table and Egidio low table, to name a few — then accompanies them with a complete tableware set. It also pieces together other home elements such as the Leonard buffet (two versions, with drawers and shelves or as a television unit) and Club bar cabinet, the latter a 50-piece limited edition hand-made with black straw marquetry and dramatized in an Ocean lacquer finish that calls to mind The Great Wave off Kanagawa by renowned Japanese artist Hokusai. These are topped off with resplendent Murano glass pieces and exquisite textiles by Rubelli.

Armani/Casa

The pop artistrock-valley-coffee-table_

Following last year’s series of ceramics-inspired leather bowls, Spanish luxury brand Loewe is back to win hearts with an entire bag of striking and eccentric designs crafted in leather marquetry. Conceived by creative director Jonathan Anderson, this latest collection of oak furniture is embellished with leather cut-outs in an array of shapes and colours pieced together to form mosaic drawings of flowers and landscapes. The project is partly inspired by the radical design ideas of pioneering artist-critic Roger Fry (furniture covered in bold, hand-painted patterns, for example), and the motifs are taken from silk prints found in Loewe’s archives, including a recurring carp adapted from a set of centuries-old Japanese wood screens Anderson found in Hong Kong. The end product is stunning, with six new creations, including a large wardrobe and two Baillie Scott chairs, along with lamps and cigar boxes as well as notebooks and leather pouches, all coated in fun to brighten up your living space.

Casa Loewe

The unrepentant gentlemanbottega-veneta-home-collection-bottega-veneta-via-borgospesso-home-boutique-3

Bronze tables surfaced in the signature intrecciato leather weave (an exclusive collaboration with Italian designer Osanna Visconti di Modrone), Murano lamps in new cigar and nero colorations, suede and leather drawers fitted with iconic bronzed handles — there’s nothing in Bottega Veneta’s home collection that doesn’t spell masculine decadence. When set against a backdrop of historic frescoes, coffered ceilings and stone walls found in a profound 18th century palazzo (Palazzo Gallarati Scotti in the heart of Milan, to be precise), the curated creations by creative director Tomas Maier even provide a taste of medieval excess. Apart from the aforementioned pieces, the collection boasts a suede seating set (club chair, foot rest, three-seat couch and day bed) named Rudi in collaboration with Poltrona Frau, a series of sterling silver collectible boxes each bearing semi-precious stones and planetary names, and a delicate hand-painted porcelain dining service. It’s a long list of complementary pieces that come together coherently to exude sophistication in the homes of those with discerning tastes.

Bottega Veneta

This article was first published in Men’s Folio.

Apple Watch Series 2 by Hermès

Apple Watch Series 2 By Hermès

While the launch of the new iPhone has got many talking, it is the Apple Watch Series 2 by Hermès that has caught our eye. With a range of new styles and colours, the timepiece is the perfect blend of design and sophistication in one. To find out more about the new Apple Watch Series 2 by Hermès, visit Men’s Folio. For our part, we are still of the opinion that Apple has given up on creating the luxury watch for everyone…at least for now. It is item four on our list, if you are in a rush.

5 Highlights From Apple Media Event

Apple knows how to put on a good show— and orchestrate a media circus around it. You, like us, have probably been waiting for the Apple media event in San Francisco even if you care so little about Apple that you think a lightning connector is a kind of lightning rod. You can admit it even if you are an Android lover or if you just love to hate Apple (despite shrinking sales, the iPhone is still the best-selling smartphone in the world). Apart from rolling out the expected new generation of products, CEO Tim Cook is hoping these clever — and perhaps brave— introductions are set to jumpstart growth at the tech company. Here are five key things to note from the announcement, although really we are mainly interested in the Apple Watch, which is why that part has the most meat in this tale…

Water-resistant iPhones

The event saw Apple introduce two new upgraded versions of the flagship smartphone — but still at the same price. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, which will be slightly larger, pretty much look the same as the iPhone 6 and 6S Plus. With a powerful processor called the A10 Fusion chip, improved camera technology and even water resistance, it is all set to lord it over other new models in the industry. Seriously, that A10 chip is a big deal, bringing more power to the table, without consuming more power, and calling attention once more to Apple’s proficiency with processors. For the selfie lovers, the new dual cameras will allow for pictures with better quality. The most controversial move, however, is the removal of the headphone jack. There is nothing in its place; the proprietary Apple “lightning” connector will function as a headphone jack, with the help of an adaptor. Apple however isn’t encouraging the use of the lightning connector for this purpose. Instead, Cook, Ive and co are inviting you to cut the cord…

Cutting the Cordairpods-apple

Forgoing the plug-in headsets that usually end up entangled, Apple has introduced a new pair of wireless headphones. Using a new wireless communication chip called the W1, the new AirPods (we recall the days Apple made another product called the AirPort — similar sounding but totally different — but we digress) can detect if a user is listening to music or not, staying ready for action in standby mode. The AirPods connect automatically to all devices linked to a user’s iCloud account. As you can see, the AirPods are tiny so you can expect to lose them frequently. Then again, Apple has never made the best headphones for its own products so this is merely par for the course. Also, they have a company that happens to make headphones, as you may have heard…

Super Mario on iPhonesuper-mario-apple

In collaboration with Nintendo, Apple announced the launch of “Super Mario Run” that was designed for mobile. The iconic game featuring everyone’s favorite plumber will be available on the App Store this year. Alongside SuperMario, Apple announced that users of the Apple Watch will be able to enjoy the popular game Pokémon Go later this month.

Apple Watch Series 2watch_nike_hero-93ec8182802-h0

Speaking of the Apple Watch, the brand will be introducing the upgraded Apple Watch, which boasts a water resistance of up to 50 meters. Fitness junkies will welcome the GPS that allows users to track their workouts without having to bring along a smartphone. Just so you know though, your watch needs to be water resistant to at least 100 meters before you can safely swim with it. Apple will also be introducing new designs in collaboration with Nike that will be targeted at runners. For those favoring something more fashionable, Apple is also working on new styles for its Hermes edition and here is where things get interesting because observers are not buying it. For the record, neither are we.

The Verge — and others — have noticed Apple’s nod in the direction of utility, meaning its dream of conquering the Swiss fine watchmaking business might be over, or at least on hold. Basically, there is only one watch brand that is truly for everyone, middle class and up: Rolex. The Apple watch was meant to be all things to all people, whatever their station, and that was probably foolish — at least for now. Even mighty Rolex did not arrive as the King of Watches overnight, though it was born with a crown. Well, Apple will have to content itself with being the world’s most valuable brand and largest publicly traded corporation (by market capitalization).

iOS 10 Release

The new mobile operating system is aimed at working with the new hardware, on September 13, including upgrades to its maps and news applications. A test version of the software, which helps accelerate Apple’s efforts in home automation, was released earlier this year.

"Galop" Hermes

Hermès Introduces New Fragrance “Galop“

Hermès is a leading luxury retailer and a dominant name in the world of fashion — a far cry from its roots as a saddle manufacturer. Paying homage to this, the luxury French brand has launched a new fragrance named “Galop” that also marks a new chapter in its history.

Two years after being appointed the in-house perfumer of Hermès, Christine Nagel is unveiling her first major creation for Hermès Parfums. To craft the scent, Nagel drew from two sources of inspiration. The first being the equestrian roots of the brand and the second a celebration of the modern woman. With a love for raw materials and skill for combining ingredients that typically clash, Nagel has earned a name for herself in the fragrance industry.

An example of this skill is seen in “Galop” where two unexpected ingredients play a key role in capturing the envisioned scent. Doblis calfskin — more frequently used in men’s scents — brings an animal side to the scent, whereas feminine and refined rose lifts the fragrance with a more sensual side. These two aromas are blended with notes of quince and saffron.

The fragrance is housed in a distinctive bottle that also pays homage to the brand’s heritage. Shaped like a stirrup and completed with a leather lace, it will certainly be difficult to forget the connection that the brand has with its history.

To find out more about “Galop”, visit Hermès.

Review: Hermès Arceau Tigre Watch

On the metiers d’art front this year, Hermès has unveiled the stunning Arceau Tigre, created in partnership with the husband-and-wife team of Olivier and Dominique Vaucher. The timepiece marks the first time the shaded enamel (enamel ombrant) technique is used in watchmaking, and sports the motif of a tiger in the likeness of an illustration by Robert Dallet, an artist with whom Hermès collaborated in the 1980s.Arceau-Tigre-Email-Enamel-JohannSauty

As a technique, shaded enamel is derived from lithophanes – thin and translucent porcelain plates that display three-dimensional images when backlit. The design on a lithophane is formed by the porcelain’s varying thickness, which lets different amounts of light through to create this effect. In the Arceau Tigre, ambient light is used instead; to create the same effect, the tiger’s image is first carved in relief on a base of white gold, before translucent black enamel is applied over it and fired. This two-step process combines the best that each technique has to offer. The engraving is able to capture every nuance of Dallet’s original drawing, down to the individual strands of hair on the tiger. Enamelling, on the other hand, accentuates the engraving’s depth, as deeper parts of the engraving contain a thicker layer of enamel and appear correspondingly darker. The final product is an extremely lifelike recreation of a tiger that looks three-dimensional despite the smooth dial surface.Arceau-Tigre-Gravure-Engraving_JohannSauty

Housed in the asymmetric Arceau case, the timepiece has a simple two-hand layout that maximises the view of the dial art. The Arceau Tigre is limited to just 12 pieces worldwide.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 41mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes
  • Power Reserve: 50 hours
  • Movement: Self-winding Hermès H1837
  • Case: White gold
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Brown alligator with white gold ardillon buckle

This article was first published in WOW.

Insider: Artist Dawn Ng X Hermès

‘How to Disappear into a Rainbow’ is a new installation by Singapore artist Dawn Ng, commissioned by the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès. It is on show now till 14 August 2016 at Aloft, one of the foundation’s five art spaces around the world. Situated at the topmost floor in the luxury house’s newly refurbished Singapore flagship store at Liat Towers, Aloft is a platform for contemporary artists to create original works.2-Dawn-Ng

The theme of the year for Aloft, set by curator Emi Eu, who is also the Director of the Singapore Tyler Print Institute, is ‘Horizon’. In response to the theme, Dawn has created an ethereal world of pale daybreak colours, looking to the Singapore skyline in the early morning for inspiration. The artist says, “I thought about the first light in the morning. And how even before you open your eyes, there are colours which seep through your eyelids: those pale hues of pinks, yellows, blues and greens… a kind of unadulterated palette that your senses slowly awaken to. I wanted to create an environment which borrowed from and played with that soft spectrum.”

In the installation, rectangular blocks of different heights and sizes in pastel shades of mint green, pale pink and similarly soothing shades are placed at irregular angles. Washed in even warm light, the installation envelops the visitor walking through the labyrinth. The colour blocks are interspersed by narrow sheets of mirrors on which bits and pieces of other colours as well as the self are reflected as one meanders through the installation, allowing visitors to continually get lost and find themselves within the work, almost in a game of hide and seek with oneself.7-How-to-Disappear-Into-a-Rainbow_4

Quiet, playful humour comes through in Dawn works, even as she explores outwardly sober themes of emotion, identity and nostalgia, such as in this work. “I think humour is one of the most interesting and disarming tools in telling a story. Humour puts people’s defenses down,” says Dawn. “There’s a strange and incredible duality in everything: sad things are actually funny, and things that are very poignant often tend to possess a silliness as well. I appreciate that dichotomy and tension between these things. I love to play with humour whenever possible.”5-How-to-Disappear-Into-a-Rainbow_2

Recent works have seen the artist use cooler shades, such as in a light, airy mobile centrepiece at the restaurant Odette at the National Gallery Singapore, and in ‘A Thing of Beauty’ (2015), a series of photographed installations of items from over a hundred mom and pop shops in Singapore, with each photograph featuring a single colour, such as beige and blue. ‘How to Disappear into a Rainbow’ continues in this direction. “The palette I gravitate towards has become a lot lighter, gentler and calm. I think that’s reflective of this stage in my life, where new things are happening yet I have a peace about them,” says Dawn. “In this particular work, I wanted to make something that I could get lost in as well. It came from a very introspective space.”

Dawn has employed a myriad of materials to make her art, a method of working she attributes to her training as a journalist in college. “I think it has helped me articulate my thoughts. I’m always clear about the story before it even has a form. That is why I’ve never stuck to one medium. If you understand a story, then you are able to tell it in the way or form it deserves to be told,” says Dawn.

One thing that has remained consistent is the artist’s fondness for making installation works. “The great thing is that in an installation, you can create a world for a person to be immersed in. I think that when work is two-dimensional, as with a painting, or even three-dimensional, such as a sculpture, it takes for someone to be in a receptive frame of a mind to appreciate it,” says Dawn. “With a spatial installation, you can cut all the noise out, and pull someone in fully and quickly into your universe.” ‘How to Disappear into a Rainbow’ is probably best visited on a quiet weekday afternoon, for the artwork’s introspective qualities to be appreciated.6-How-to-Disappear-Into-a-Rainbow_3

This is the first time Dawn has worked with the luxury house. Commenting on the experience, Dawn says, “What I appreciate about Hermès is their integrity in being patrons of art. They gave me full creative license, and that’s one of the reasons I really took to the project, and was excited about working on it.”

This article was first published in Art Republik.

Hermes Crafting Time Exhibition Celebrates Horology

The talent of artist Guillaume Airiaud is the subject of much fascination for Hermes, which is an incredible feat considering he is only 32. It is no surprise, then, that the storied fashion house would call upon his expertise for the “Crafting Time” exhibition. It not only unveiled three new exceptional timepieces, but also reinterpreted five key areas that apply to Hermes timepieces. Each one is translated into a series of visually-intriguing sculptures.

Hermes Crafting time exhibition 2016

Crystal art glass

Airiaud’s interpretation of dial creation is a mesmerizing showcase of the processes a “gob” of crystal experiences after it goes through the furnace.

Enameling

In an alluring kaleidoscope of pigments, the exhibit showcases the transformation of glass powder as it evolves into an infinite palette of shades in various degrees of translucency upon repeated firings in the kiln.

Hermes Crafting time exhibition 2016

Engraving

Slow rotating sculptures, combined with graphic art and transparency effects create optical illusions. The sculpture’s double H emblem alludes to the famed Fauborg Saint-Honore store in Paris, a meaningful parallel to the Hermes‘ dedication to high watchmaking.

Haute Horlogerie

Playfully deconstructed numerals appear and vanish in a slow dance between the exhibit’s wheels and gears, mimicking the delicate but destructive mechanics of time.

Hermes Crafting time exhibition 2016

Gem-setting

Airiaud explores the brilliance of precious stones in this showcase, highlighting the facet of a diamond being cut and radiating its sparkle with movement and light.

 

 

orange birkin bag

Taiwanese Steals $7 million, Buys Birkins: Report

An executive at a bicycle company in Taiwan has been indicted of embezzling $7.19 million to sustain her luxury shopping habit. According to a report in the Taipei Times, the Accell Group accountant skimmed money off the company’s books and spent it on high end products from Hermes, Cartier, Loewe and Mikimoto; apparently her item of choice was the Hermès Birkin, of which she purchased at least six. It never ceases to amaze us how far people will go for a Birkin.

The Chinese-language Apple Daily revealed the accused’s name as Liu Fang-ting and reported that she worked at Accell’s Taiwan branch as an accountant and cashier. In January, the company noticed that it had a “hole” in its accounts and the police started an investigation shortly after.

Liu turned herself in to the authorities at this point, claiming she spent every dime she stole on her shopping habit. She reportedly told police that she was trying to emulate Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau’s girlfriend Chen Kaiyun, who it seems favors the aforementioned Hermès Birkins… Lau of course is known to us for his blue diamond purchases.

Interestingly, although Liu reportedly used the ill-gotten gains to buy department store credits, much of her spending spree was online. Apple Daily cites online sellers as confirming that they sold the six Hermes Birkins to Liu, for upwards of $62,000 each.

Liu was indicted on charges of embezzlement and forgery. She was released on bail pending her scheduled trial Friday. Read the original story here.

Hermes Acquires Stake in Pierre Hardy

Hermes’ acquisition of a minority stake in Pierre Hardy comes at a very opportune time. With the shoe market performing better than usual in the first financial quarter of 2016, this strategic move may prove beneficial for the footwear label’s expansion plans.

It isn’t all altruism on Hermes’ part, obviously – Pierre Hardy has designed the French label’s shoes and jewellery collections since 2001. In line with Hermes’s history of supporting designers it works with, it is a step towards fostering closer working relationships.

For more information, read more on Men’s Folio Singapore.