Hermès Lends a Detroit-Based Artist a Platform at Their New Store in Troy, Michigan

The store opened with a colorful mural from multidisciplinary artist Ellen Rutt inspired by the brand's design iconography and the shop's Great Lakes location.

Ellen Rutt, Chain of Events (2021). Photo courtesy Hermès.

This summer, French luxury brand Hermès expanded into the Detroit market by opening a store in the neighboring city of Troy, Michigan. 

The 5,000-square-foot space, located in the city’s largest luxury shopping mall, the Somerset Collection, offers every part of the brand’s collection, from silk scarves, leather goods, and fine jewelry to the recently launched Hermès beauty line. 

The move comes as a result of Hermès C.E.O. Robert Chavez’s close relationship with the Forbes family, which owns the Somerset Collection and other spaces around the country in which Hermès has set up shop.

Hermès also wanted to be closer to its Great Lakes region clientele, according to vice president of Hermès Communications, Peter Malachi. “We’re very honored to be here,” he told the Detroit News in June. 

But what’s especially interesting about this location is its focus on art. For its opening season, Hermès has outfitted the store with a compelling artwork by a Detroit-based artist who engaged with elements of the brand’s history, in addition to its local culture and physical location, which is already reflected in the color palette and materials of the store’s intricate design, influenced by Michigan’s great lakes, forests, and mountainscapes. 

The exterior of the Hermes Troy shop. Photo courtesy Hermes.

The exterior of the Hermès Troy store. Photo courtesy Hermès.

The artist is Ellen Rutt, a multidisciplinary creator who conceived a mural entitled Chain of Events, which, according to the artist, is a kind of visual adventure story inspired by the brand’s 2021 “theme,” called the Faubourg Odyssey.

“The word Faubourg recalls not only 24 Faubourg Saint-Honoré [the location of Hermès’s flagship shop], but the tumult of a street, the energetic bustle of a city,” Rutt tells Artnet News. “Building on the theme of the human odyssey, this design symbolically depicts the narrative arch of an adventure story that mirrors one’s own journey through life. It’s a dramatic orchestral composition—the design starts off small and builds slowly, introducing the viewer to different forms and colors.” 

Ellen Rutt's mural for Hermes. Photo courtesy Hermes.

Ellen Rutt’s mural for Hermès. Photo courtesy Hermès.

As the viewer travels along the wall from left to right, Rutt explains, “the mural’s shapes cascade across the surface, gaining momentum through complex layering. Everything reaches a crescendo towards the center. The shapes carry over the front edge of the barricade leaving the story unfinished and open-ended while highlighting certain codes from Hermès’s iconography.”

Photo courtesy Hermes.

Photo courtesy Hermès.

When asked what she wants viewers to take into account as they engage with the work, Rutt says she hopes “people feel curious enough to look closer and notice that it is painted by hand. In a world where so many things are mass-produced on a large scale, I appreciate and respect Hermès’s commitment to craftsmanship alongside their decades of artist partnerships.”

This month, the brand is also bringing Hermès artisans to the store for a live exhibition that will showcase the craft process for leather goods and silk printing.

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