We’ve a certain bias towards French creative studio Bonsoir Paris. We’ve collaborated with them on projects in Milan, been stunned by their window displays at Selfridges at the start of the year and then they shot the cover of the Autumn issue of Printed Pages, firmly cementing our love for them forever more. It’s their restless experimentation that makes them so interesting; for a group of three guys their ability to push materials in new and exciting directions is unparalleled and they bring fresh perspectives to materials we’ve seen used a thousand times before.
It comes as no surprise that their recent installations at De Bijenkorf department store in Amsterdam are both beautiful and technically innovative – giving a digital aesthetic to organic wooden forms through CAD modelling and digital milling – but the progression since their last project is so marked that even we as long-term fans were struck by the work. I’ve been pestering Remy, Morgan and Ben for an interview about the project since I saw the first images on Instagram a few months back, and thankfully they’ve finally conceded…
How did the project come about with Hermès?
We met the Hermès team about a year ago. At the time, it was a simple contact, but we were already thinking about possible collaborations on different content (installations, retail, photography etc …). We think the thing they liked most in our work was the new approach to old materials that we proposed. Hermès is a fashion house known for their craftsmanship and quality of manufactured materials so we instantly felt comfortable within that framework.
This isn’t the first window display you’ve done for a large retailer, how was your approach different to last time?
Each new project requires a new approach because we like to propose new ideas, the clients change, products change and places change too… It’s kind of tailor-made work each time, which is very exciting. We like to see each project as a new challenge to overcome. We always try to improve our understanding and expectations for our commissioned projects.
They’re a pretty desirable client, what was it like to work with them?
This was a real opportunity to work with a client that drove us to produce something spectacular. In general, these projects must be scaled down for the sake of cost and time, but here, we had all the ideal conditions to propose a project with which we could really push the envelope.
Talk us through the initial brief and your first ideas…
Hermès gave us carte blanche to illustrate their windows for De Bijenkorf. While keeping the brand’s heritage and identity, we offered a digital interpretation of various states of water – an omnipresent element in Amsterdam. The designs mingle with waterfalls, waves, jets and water drops, consisting of a kind of ‘Nature 2.0’ of organic and inorganic. Between fixed and dynamic animated windows, water is represented by systems of simple constructions pushed to their limits, a complexity close to nature. The whole installation was designed to be modular, allowing them to be adapted in different Hermès windows around the world.
What about the materials, how was everything constructed?
The structures are made of about 80% wood. We modelled the designs in CAD, then produced the forms using computer-assisted production techniques (digital cutting, milling, etc…) which gives a digital effect to the shape. Some parts were in motion and others animated by illuminated LEDs. In that sense, there is a lot of invisible technology in these windows.
The installation is no longer on show, so can you describe the atmosphere to anyone who couldn’t make it down?
It’s hard to explain for others, but for this project we have tried to be at the boundary between the natural and the digital, mathematics and poetry, the minimal and the organic, movement and static, real and supernatural… while sticking to the image of Hermès. It’s sort of best seen in-situ, that’s why we produced the video above to visualise the project.
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