Who would have thought the World’s Best Pastry Chef would also be mad about design?
In the world of French pastries, Pierre Hermé is what Picasso was to painting: the gold standard. An insatiable explorer of taste sensations, this Alsatian pastry chef has literally revolutionised the world of sweet treats, creating veritable masterpieces such as the iconic Ispahan, which celebrates the alliance of raspberry, litchi and rose. Driven by an insatiably curious nature, this huge talent doesn’t solely stick to his classics, constantly concocting new creations to tantalize the world’s taste buds. For his 2018-2019 autumn-winter collection, he infused delicate macaroons with Pu Erh tea and sake kasu, whilst his Yule logs are flavoured with fresh herbs and pine needles, with certain nestling in lattice cases designed by paper lace-maker Marjorie Colas. Although he worships at the altar of flavour, Hermé is also obsessed with aesthetics, as witnessed in one of the first ever creations he dreamed up back in 1993: La Cerise Sur le Gâteau (Cherry On the Cake), a sleekly shaped indulgent treat designed hand-in-hand with Irish graphic designer Yan Pennor’s. Since then, the pastry king has gone on to devise a myriad of delightful delicacies, each as delectable and visually stunning as the next.
And although he always designs his creations himself with a few deft strokes of the pencil, this architect of taste, as he sometimes likes to call himself, loves nothing more than bouncing ideas around with artists and designers. These inspiring discussions have resulted in thousands of amazing creations, including serving utensils designed by Matali Crasset for Alessi or by Patrick Jouin for Puyforcat, packaging illustrated by Nicolas Vial, and even galette des rois charms designed by sculptor Bernar Venet himself! His stores, meanwhile, have always been sumptuously styled, acting as the perfect showcase for his pastries.
Nowadays, Pierre Hermé heads up dozens of retail outlets scattered across twelve different countries and employing 700 people, but he nonetheless admits to having a particular soft spot for 86Champs on the Champs-Elysées, opened with L’Occitane in late 2017. Designed by architect Laura Gonzalez, the space turns the traditional codes of beauty and indulgence on their heads, playing to Hermé’s progressively nurtured passion for stylish design collectables. His own home is furnished with a rocking chair by Charles & Ray Eames, which sits alongside a Raymond Loewy dresser and a Ron Arad Victoria & Albert sofa. The very first design piece he ever fell in love with was a floor lamp, purchased over twenty-five years ago. It was Philippe Starck’s Soudain le sol trembla (Suddenly the ground shook), which still enjoys pride of place in his lounge. An iconic piece for an equally iconic pastry chef.
By Caroline Roig
Saturday 07 Sept. 2019 — 4pm
The beautiful and the delicious: a story of taste