BEIRUT: Most French Fashion Houses are in the thick of preshow preparations, calling for models and scrambling to finish their ready-to-wear collections for spring-summer 2014. But Hermès, an iconic French brand-making luxury accessories and clothing for more than 170 years, is looking away from Paris, in search of entrants for its International Design Competition.In its third edition, the Prix Emile Hermès contest is organized by the company’s philanthropic and educational arm, the Fondation d’Entreprise Hermès, and seeks to support budding designers around the world.
“Our belief in the vital importance of support for creativity, and the conditions for creativity to emerge and flourish, led to the creation of a design award saluting new projects responding to society’s current and future needs,” said Pierre-Alexis Dumas, president of the foundation and creative director for Hermès International.
The Fondation d’Entreprise Hermès began sending the call out to Lebanese designers Monday. Prospective entrants have until mid-November to submit their work, which this year will center on the theme “Time to Yourself.”
Entrants may sign up as individuals or teams, and the competition will include two rounds. In the first, the jury will gather a short list of designers, who will then have two prototypes manufactured with a 8,000 euro stipend. In April, the jury will reconvene to decide on the three top finalists. The grand prize for the competition is 50,000 euros; second place is 25,000 euros; and third 15,000 euros.
The theme this year, “Time to Yourself,” centers around creating a functional object to promote solitude and serenity: two things certainly in short supply. The scarcity of peace, however, might lend itself to some unexpected innovation, something on which Hermès has placed a particular emphasis.
“The Prix Emile Hermès invites young professionals from all over the world to create the objects of tomorrow: original, timely designs reflecting society’s changing lifestyles and aspirations,” read the competition’s guidelines.
To explain the theme, Hermès’ guidelines focused on the different kinds of seating that have evolved over time, rocking chairs, couches, lounge chairs, etc. But their vision for entries goes beyond simple furniture design.
“A machine [why not?] for ‘sitting out,’ taking a break from the hurly-burly of daily life, a shelter from the storm of information and images, the eye of the whirlwind of social and professional demands on our time and energies,” the guidelines say.
Indeed, the International Design Competition’s past editions, in 2008 and 2011, had a variety of entries, some of which were very technical. Many of the short-listed items in the 2011 competition included minimalistic and alternative heating devices for the year’s theme, “Heat, Me-Heat, Re-heat.” The first-place winner was a slow-cooking device from a young French team.
Other rules for the competition specify that entrants must have a degree from a school of design, engineering, architecture, and visual or applied arts, or be in the final year. If they have no professional degree, then they must have at least three years of professional experience. All entrants must be under the age of 40.
“The prize aims to discover and encourage emerging design talent, reflecting the parallel aims of the foundation’s programs in the visual and performing arts,” Dumas said. – The Daily Star
For more information about the competition and to register online, visit the competition’s website at http://www.prixemilehermes.com.