An Immersive Tribute to Hermès’s Craftsmanship Pops Up Stateside

Currently on view in Detroit, “Hermès in the Making” is set to travel to Austin later this year
“Hermès in the Making” on view in Detroit.
“Hermès in the Making” on view in Detroit.Photo: William Jess Laird

This past Friday, “Hermès in the Making,” an interactive and peripatetic event, opened just outside Detroit. The effort—which is part exhibition and part learning experience—made its original debut in Copenhagen before traveling to Turin, Italy. Now it’s popped up stateside, with plans to continue on to Austin later this year. Hermès aficionados hoping to catch the Midwestern installation have through June 15 to check it out.

The show, which is located in a Troy, Michigan, mall that houses the local Hermès boutique, builds clearly upon the house’s past efforts. In 2017, the brand opened “Hermèsmatic,” a traveling pop-up where visitors could bring old and well-loved scarves to be dip-dyed, and therefore revitalized. (The Austin iteration proved to be particularly popular.) Next up was 2018’s “Carré Club.” The event was dedicated once again to Hermès’s famous silk scarves, but owning one no longer felt like an implicit prerequisite. At a slew of orbiting stations, interested members of the general public could learn about these products and meet the talented artisans who bring them to life. 

A specialist brings Hermès silk prints to life.

Photo: William Jess Laird

Here, an artisan works on a leather bag handle.

Photo: William Jess Laird

“Hermès in the Making” feels like the natural next step in this progression. Structured not unlike the “Carré Club,” it has an expanded focus on many of Hermès’s signature métiers. What is more, just as there was a clear focus on sustainability at “Hermèsmatic,” so is it throughout “Hermès in the Making.” The event’s official subtitle, “Meet the Artisans Behind Hermès’s Sustainable Craftsmanship,” makes both of these facts clear. 

Beautifully hand-painted porcelain.

Photo: William Jess Laird

Inside the exhibition, open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., is a veritable treasure trove of entertainments. A watchmaker, gemstone-setter, and porcelain painter are just a handful of the expert craftspeople—the vast majority of whom were flown over from France for the occasion—who can be watched in action. It’s not just the attention to minuscule visual detail, required of the watchmaker’s work, which stands out for its excellence, but also all of the participating artisans are likely to wow. A repair specialist—in from the company’s Madison Avenue, New York, flagship—is on hand to explain the process behind his current handbag restoration task. However, the best attraction is arguably the silk scarf printing process. Staged at a series of timed intervals throughout each day, the magic of watching each layer of dye be printed one by one is sure to delight. 

At this and other such stations, translators are on hand where and when needed. Yet for more introverted visitors, there’s also plenty of offerings that can viewed solo. An interactive map of France lights up to show where each type of product is produced, educating the viewer on the historic areas of design expertise in the process. (Lyon is the capital for silk, a pocket of Northern France is the go-to location for perfume…you get the idea.) Elsewhere, a display of chapeaux is as jauntily charming as its nearby whicker neighbors. A serene architectural model, of a forthcoming sustainable production facility, is a marvel in its own right. 

Notably, there’s no integrated retail component to “Hermès in the Making,” just complementary beverages and perfectly frosted custom cookies. But that doesn’t mean visitors to the free effort won’t be temped to make a subsequent purchase. Last week, die-hard fans of the brand and those imbued with a more general sense of curiously flocked to the site. The question, clearly, is not whether this effort will be a hit with local residents, but rather what a company so adept at creatively translating its commitment to craft into action might next have in the making.