Hermès Rive Gauche by RDAI

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Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

French architects RDAI have completed this new Paris boutique for fashion brand Hermès inside a 1930s swimming pool building.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

Hermès Rive Gauche features three nine-metre high wooden pavilions made of ash laths, each housing the Hermès collections.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

A fourth wooden structure lines the staircase leading visitors from the entrance into the former pool.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

The floor of the pool area is covered with mosaic tiles.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

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Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

Photographs are by Michel Denancé unless otherwise stated.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

Here are some more details from Hèrmes:


Hermès has entrusted the RDAI agency, which is reponsible for designing all the Hermès stores worldwide, with the design of a new space, singular and unexpected in Paris. Hermès is setting up shop in a swimming pool... An immense volume, empty. An impression more of space than of surface area. And now, at the end of a project that added but did not take away, the Lutétia swimming pool, in the heart of the Saint-Germain- des-Prés quarter of Paris, has metamorphosed into the first Hermès boutique on the Left Bank.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

The architectural project led by Denis Montel and the teams at RDAI mixes contrasts and complementarities. It was imagined more in terms of volume than surface area, in m3 more than in m2. In the end, it is an intervention both radical and astonishingly gentle.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

Listed as a Historic Monument since 2005, the swimming pool built in 1935 has a strong architectonic character and a compelling identity, that of Art Deco – it is in the spirit of its age. After its closure, the swimming pool underwent varied and diverse uses and was transformed. The challenge was to translate some of the values intrinsic to Hermès into space: heritage and modernity, savoir-faire and creation.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

The project has a double aim. First of all to respect, conserve and reinterpret the architecture of the swimming pool.The only important modification was the covering of the pool by means of concrete composite floor slab supported by a light structure. Underneath, the pool has been integrally preserved. The facade, giving onto the rue de Sèvres, has kept its original appearance.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

Then, to tell another story, one that is resolutely contemporary.This takes form through the appearance of three monumental ash huts which both disrupt the existing volumes and converse with them.The invasion of what was once the pool by these huts, flexible, light and nomadic, suggests the creation of houses within the house.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

A change of scale, an invitation to wander, to drift, which produces a powerful magic... Everywhere the movements seem natural, they are fluid, rippling.The shimmering of the water that was once here is evoked in a subtle way in the tones of the mosaics, in the effects of the lights... What existed and what has been added converse in a strange harmony. They are whole, they are complementary.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

The Entrance

At the foot of an elegant apartment building from the mid 1930s, the facade of the Hermès store is discreet.An entrance portico in the centre between two windows, nothing to hint at the surprise awaiting once through the doors...

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

The entrance is like a lightwell overturned, horizontal, which attracts one irrevocably towards the light at the back, towards what was the Lutétia swimming pool.The entrance to the store must function like a delicious trap into which the visitor lets himself slide, from crossing the threshold of the doors on the street until he reaches the swimming pool and its strange inhabitants, the huts.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

To guide him, the perspectives are accentuated and modified by an imperceptible contraction, rather like the sides of the Médicis fountain in the Luxembourg garden. The lightly inclined ceiling, the walls curved and leaning inwards, covered with oak laths that leave recesses open as if floating in matter. An introduction full of mysteries inciting one to plunge into this new Hermès house.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

The Huts

Four pavilions with an organic design, in which some will recognise familiar forms from the plant or animal world, or from childhood... Others will liken these huts, which occupy the volume of the swimming pool, to the nests of tisserin birds.These pavilions of different form and dimensions are constructed in ash wood. They are self-supporting structures that rest on a system of woven wooden laths (profile 6x4cm) with a double radius of curves. The documentation and three-dimensional drawing of the complex geometry of each hut was made possible by the computer script written for each one of them.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

Rising to more than 9 m in height, they lean progressively, as if attracted by the skylights. The huts house the Hermès collections. They seem to have simply alighted on the ground, lending the project its nomadic dimension.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

The fourth hut, which appears to be lying down, lines the staircase that naturally leads the visitor towards the pool and forms the link between the entrance and the open space of the swimming pool.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

The Lighting

In such a volume, the lighting is crucial. The entire space is bathed in natural light that penetrates through the three large skylights above the atrium, softened only by a metal screen. At night the skylights are lit to avoid a “black hole” effect.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

In order to avoid putting the spaces overlooking the pool that previously housed the changing rooms, in the shade, the effects had to be measured out, the contrasts that would otherwise have been too harsh attenuated. All the vertical panels are therefore also lightly illuminated.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

Above photograph is by Bruno Clergue

The undulating walls in white plaster, running around the ground floor, are lit from above by LED tape with the light source hidden from view.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

Above photograph is by Bruno Clergue

Lit from the interior, the huts appear as giant lanterns. A lighting device embedded in the floor, illuminates their vaults of latticed wood.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

Each hut has a large chandelier composed of a double ring of suspended wood.The shelving is lit by integrated and invisible LED tape.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

Above photograph is by Bruno Clergue

The Mosaics

The Lutétia swimming pool is a mineral world. The floors, the columns, the staircases are covered in mosaics, broken tiles or granito. The existing ornamental elements on the floor and the walls have been preserved and restored.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

Through the play of this transformation, this world has discovered several new forms of expression...

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

Above photograph is by Bruno Clergue

In the entrance to the store, a mosaic carpet with a Greek motif (a nod to the flooring of the Hermès store at 24 Faubourg Saint-Honoré) welcomes visitors. Following this desire for coherence, the steps and risers of the large newly created staircase are in granito.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

Adding to this refinement, the floors of rooms less visible to visitors (such as the fitting rooms, the bathrooms) have been worked in broken tiles. It is a means of writing these new spaces into the history of the swimming pool. The surface of the pool is adorned with a mosaic covering, whose texture and composition of ceramic and glass mosaic tiles evoke the movement of waves. Shiny and matt tesserae in different dimensions and in multiple colours and white gold seem to vibrate as one moves around. A random approach to the composition in graduated tones creates effects of depth and sparkle accentuated by the play of light.

Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

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Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

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Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

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Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

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Hermes Rive Gauche by RDAI

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  • descene

    really nice, kind of a supersized marc newson chair from the 90's

  • http://www.fxexchangerate.com/ fxgeorges

    On se lâche, chez Rena Dumas. Quand le chat n’est plus là, peut-être…
    En tout cas, c’est très élégant, très Hermès, quoi.

  • http://twitter.com/ShapeThings @ShapeThings

    I want to see photos of the building when it was still a pool. That must of been amazing.

  • http://www.davestasiuk.com Dave S.

    Wonderful project…really exquisite integration of materials, spatial consideration, playfulness, context, craft…also a particularly fine application of scripted geometry. Bravo to the client, design team and constructors. Thanks for the drawing, as well!

  • LELEdes

    There isn't the right colour contrast between the floor and the wooden pavillons. Too much grids, too much different patterns, too much visual confusion. IMHO there's no the elegance that Hermes brand requires.

  • Doug C

    The description seems to work hard to avoid giving credit to the craftsmen who actually built this. Anyone know?

    • vellist

      Holzbau Amann from Germany built these, with designtoproduction from Switzerland doing fabrication planning.

  • http://individual.cl/ æon

    Fire flames?

  • over here

    Does anyone else think this stuff looks like a blown-up and badly inspired version of New Zealand furniture and lighting designer David Trubridge's work.
    http://www.davidtrubridge.com

    • Glee

      Yes, totally agree…. it reminded me of David Trubridge's work when I first saw all the photos.

  • JPHE

    I totally agree when you enter the store how do you know that it is a Hermes store? No orange anywhere the wood color is too yellow and raw as opposed to the polished dark brown that has always been used. In this really huge space the utilization of this wood looks a little bit cheap, unfinished. The chairs and tables used on the 2nd floor look like those you can find in any resort in south Asian countries. Et puis trop de mosaiques tuent la mosaique.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anthonio.romashov Anton Romashov

    the project indeed is nice, but it so doesn't go with Hermes……..

  • stillunwritten

    I found it very creative.Especially the idea of being seen from every flat is so appreciable.I liked continuity between stairs and total structure.

  • Hail

    So a swimming-pool (a public sports equipment) in central Paris is sold/transformed into the nth. luxury shop in the area and everybody seems happy?

    Simply disgusting.

    • Anou Vte

      This was a swimming that was closed a long time ago. The building was already used by a fashion brand in the 80-90s and was unoccupied for at least 3 years before Hermès decided to use it.
      I hope this help to revise your judgement.

  • http://fizzfieldgrass-art.jimdo.com Fizz Fieldgrass

    Would have made a wonderful exhibition space – but for more fashion….?

  • edullo

    the wood structure are wonderfull but I do not get why an interior intervention… They will look better outside under sunlight….

  • woonwensen

    ThanX to Dezeen I was informed on time and had the chance to add this to my Paris trip last week. Walking through the Hermes concept shop was mind blowing, inspiring and enjoyed every detail. I lover IT!

  • amerlok

    I went to the store on Saturday and admit it is rather amazing. the wood structures are beautifully constructed. I had seen the pictures here first and I was a little skeptical, but being in the space I was rather seduced. The only thing I found a little but strange is the layout of the merchandise. There doesn't seem to be really enough for the space. Also, one of the busiest spots in the store is the scarf counter, which is this tiny stand on the first floor just shoved in a rather "bland" corner. Left me a little perplexed why the wouldn't give the emblematic product more prominence….There is certainly enough space!

  • tammy

    When I first saw the images I thought it was amazing that David trubridge had won the design brief for this job.