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August 26, 2013

Perfect Pairing: Hermès + Anthony Burrill

Across Los Angeles, scarves are being carefully tied and retied in anticipation of the Hermès Beverly Hills flagship boutique reopening next Wednesday, September 4. To assuage the growing suspense, the famed French fashion house known for its hand-made leather goods commissioned graphic animation artist Anthony Burrill to create a video inspired by the architecture of the space (designed by French firm Rena Dumas Architecture Interieure) and the region where it resides. The work gives devotees a sense of the space before its doors officially open. Burrill, who lives in the UK on the Isle of Oxney, is best known for his text-based compositions, but for this project he relied on vivid Southern California iconography and recurring motifs throughout the boutique rather than words. Here, Burrill discusses his artistic inspiration for the video.


Is this the first time you’ve been commissioned by a boutique to create a graphic animation work about a specific place?  
Yes. I’ve worked with Hermès previously, illustrating a collection of accessories and creating a three-dimensional window display for its Bond Street store in London.

What colors did you use for the piece? 
I used a reduced palette of bright blues, clear yellows and lots of white. My aim was to produce a piece that felt light and airy, but also had a strong geometric feel. In all of my work, whether it’s printmaking, exhibitions or animations, I like to produce pieces that are visually minimal, but rich in ideas.

You’ve used some classic images of this region.
California has an incredibly rich visual shorthand: sunlight, palm trees and blue sky. These are all elements I wanted to include, but in a new and innovative way. I also looked at the work of David Hockney for inspiration. The way Hockney has defined the West Coast using ideas of abstraction, but still referencing natural forms was a key inspiration for me—something that I wanted to explore and pay homage to.

Forms that resemble palm trees rise and sprout. What do they represent for you?  
When I think of Beverly Hills, I think of palm trees, so I knew they had to be a large part of the animation. The trees are drawn on the same precise grid as the rest of the animation, meaning that they had to be economical in form, not too detailed, but still recognisable as palm trees.

Why did you create geometric forms to represent these ideas?  
I looked closely at the architecture of the new boutique, its geometric façade and sweeping staircase. These elements provided valuable visual inspiration. I wanted to produce a piece that had it’s own strong visual language so the modular grid system worked well for this. I was able to layer various visual elements, while the rigid grid structure helped to hold everything together.

What about the interior design of the new space inspired the animation?  
I picked out several visual motifs that are used within the store. I used repeating patterns that are particular to Hermès. There are underlying graphic structures that suggest interlocking shapes. It was a quick leap to produce a graphic response to the architecture and interiors of the new store.

What does the opening sequence with squares and circles evoke for you?  
The central idea of the animation was to depict a day in L.A. in an abstracted and representative form. I am intrigued by scale and repetition in the natural world, the way in which we can see miniature forms repeated throughout natural forms, but which also have a strong geometric feel. The sun, being a perfect circle, was key to the development of my designs. This led to parallel lines, graduated color tones and sensual movement. These are things that we see in nature, but, when depicted simply and geometrically, have a strong, dynamic feel.

By Elizabeth Varnell

Pictured: A still from a video by Anthony Burrill commissioned in conjunction with the re-opening of the Hermès Beverly Hills boutique.
Courtesy of Hermès

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