Les Poèmes du Mandarin

Tableware collection for Hermès

When we designed the Krug Room at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong, we initially approached Hermès to provide the tableware. After looking through their existing range, we chose to create a custom design exclusive to the Krug private dining space. With the success of the design and collaboration, the Les Poèmes du Mandarin collection was launched for retail sale in Hermès stores around the world in 2009.

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The challenge

Faced with this unique opportunity and with the knowledge that each Krug room in the world ought to be unique, we set out to create a bespoke tableware collection which would include an artistic connection to Hong Kong, as well as resonate with the values of the 3 prestigious brands attached to the project: Krug, Mandarin Oriental and Hermès.

Our Approach

The concept reaches back to the realisation that Chinese calligraphy is reminiscent of rising bubbles in a glass of champagne. We then mapped out a series of preliminary layouts of poetry about wine and food that Chinese contemporary calligrapher Fung Ming-Chip drew under our direction.

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We researched the work of classic poets from Tang and Sung dynasties, such as Li Bai, Ch’eng Hao and Du Fu – with references to conviviality, friendship, sharing food and drinks – to be used as a reference for Fung Ming-Chip to write calligraphy.

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The artist’s scripts were then carefully interpreted in a monochromatic palette of grey tones to create a sense of movement and water effects on the ceramic. We punctuated each artwork with small and playful Chinese red stamps or ‘chops’ carved by the artist. The different scales and compositions and were matched by the variety of content – full poems to extracts or single characters.

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The skill and craft of Hermès ateliers or Compagnie des Arts de la Table are on full display in the rendering of the ink, with touches of platinum making it look has it has just been applied, still glistening and wet. The result is a full collection of tableware comprising of 18 pieces of Chinese and Western styles.