In the saddle


Architecture agency, RDAI, is responsible for the design of all Hermès stores. It recently completed its first boutique in Kuwait, at Al Hamra tower

GCC: Hermès, the former Parisian atelier of harnesses and saddles, has opened its first boutique in Kuwait, in a shopping mall in Al Hamra Tower, that was once home to the region’s first cinema, built in 1958.

The architecture firm responsible for all the stores’ design is Rena Dumas’s agency, RDAI.


It started working with Hermès in 1975 and signed the renovation of the flagship store 24 Faubourg Saint Honoré in 1978. Since then, it has designed all the Hermès boutiques worldwide.

The artistic director is Denis Montel and Dominique Hebrard is the assistant artistic director and project interior architect for the Kuwait store.

“RDAI has an ongoing relationship with the Hermès group; through the realisation of its retail outlets, we work to translate into the space the notions of quality and modernity that are intrinsic to the brand. We design all Hermès stores with an interest in the local cultural aesthetics, materials and local savoir-faire/methods. This approach to find the adequate response to each project and not impose a style keeps our creativity alive,” said Montel.

Inspired by moucharaby latticework, the 300m2 shop is surrounded by a semi-transparent glass wall with the lower part in a metallic finish and the entrance is framed by two large display windows lined in beige fabric. The front door opens onto a pale grey, white and red mosaic, evoking that of the origiinal 24 Faubourg St Honoré, with two matching ex-librises (book plates).

Three semi-enclosed spaces that have been designed according to a concept of “boxes within a box” are linked by large, slightly opaque mirrors which act as light conductors throughout the venue.

It has several low showcases in glass and cherrywood and a centerpiece that displays the Hermessence perfumes and small leather goods.

Further on, is the furniture collection, including reedited pieces by Jean-Michel Frank, arranged on a rug from the Hermès collection.

The room has three spaces, which are dedicated to jewellery and men’s and women’s ready-to-wear fashion. Each one, separated by room dividers, has a distinct interior identity, decorated in light stucco, with acid-etched chevron mirrors or glazed niches.

“The first, dedicated to women’s ready-to-wear, has acid-etched mirror panels and backlit silk scarves. This monochrome box is decorated inside with light and matt lacquer, mastic-coloured carpet and beige Confidences armchairs designed by Rena Dumas,” said Montel.

“Display windows are set into the panels, visible from inside and out, to give the “box” its transparency and lightness. The more private jewellery and watches space is set in deep red lacquer. A round oval cherrywood table, with three chairs upholstered in red leather completes the red composition.

“Finally, the men’s ready-to-wear section, lit by luminous display windows, is entirely panelled in sanded cherrywood. On the ceiling, four rows of lights representing a Greek meander together with moulded glass globes, specially designed for Hermès in 1925, highlight the geometric construction of the store.”

Visitors can move from one Hermès ‘universe’ to another and discover the Parisian House’s 16 métiers, as well as part of its art collection. Two prints by Baldizzone are on view at the store. They belong to Hermès’ collection of contemporary photography.

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