Paris, France


Hermès’s newest emporium has an unassuming facade and a pair of store windows with displays of furniture and flowers that fit neatly into the bourgeois row of shop fronts on the rue de Sèvres in Paris’s 6th arrondissement. They little prepare the visitor for what lies inside: the dazzling renovation of an Art Deco space that once housed a swimming pool, the Piscine Lutetia, next to the fabled and still extant Hotel Lutetia.

The historical elements of the skylit Olympian-scale three-story atrium, with its rich mosaic tiling and balconies edged with elegant iron fretwork balustrades, vaguely recall the luxury and scale of grand department store interiors. The bold introduction of three 27-foot-tall huts — varied in size and made of an open lattice of organically shaped ash wood — suggests a contemporary museum space. This same wood elegantly flanks the new staircase structure that brings the visitor from street level down to the historic pool level — some 12 feet below.

In this adaptive reuse converting an indoor swimming pool into a store, Denis Montel, the architect and managing and artistic director of Rena Dumas Architecture Intérieure (RDAI), which has designed a number of Hermès stores, created the undulating structures. These intimate yet permeable display pavilions are intended to “inhabit and divide the space” of the 16,000-square-foot main floor, Montel emphasizes, and establish a dialogue with the rectilinear lines of the 1935 pool interior originally designed by Lucien Béguet. The new biomorphic insertions also successfully mediate the scale between the atrium’s volume and the smaller display counters and merchandise.

Since the site is a registered “monument historique” but is not classified, the law allowed some stylistic leeway in its restoration. “It is rare for a listed building in France to be developed exclusively into a commercial retail space,” Montel notes. Mosaics composed of ceramic and glass tiles in different dimensions and colors constitute a key surviving historic feature of the interior. RDAI restored many of the mosaics and designed new ones for certain areas. Indeed, the floor laid on top of the pool is composed of new ceramic and glass tiles, as well as broken old ones. “The mosaic pattern covering the pool cavity was designed to evoke the movement of waves and shimmering water,” says Montel. “The random approach and use of graduated tones create effects of depth accentuated by the play of light,” he adds.

In the cavity itself the architects inserted steel framing on which the new mosaic floor was laid. The footprint of the former pool is evident from the shallow “gutters” around the perimeter of the main retail floor. The gutters, which are surfaced in these new tiles, were required to be preserved. In the event that Hermès or a future tenant wanted to reinstate the pool, the flooring and its underlying supports can be removed, and the historic gutter locations remain in place.

The small changing cabins, or vestiaires, on the two upper, balconied floors were removed before the site was registered in 2005; now the uninterrupted white walls behind these narrow balconies provide a handsome foil for the original black iron balustrades. But they do make the upper atrium floors appear mysteriously uninhabited, while elsewhere on the entrance level the café/tearoom, a florist, and a bookshop proclaim the new Hermès “experience” — programmatic elements that are hyperdistilled variations of those experiences offered by hip Paris boutiques and shops elsewhere.

This store, the company’s 334th, showcases a line of home furnishings, including most notably the company’s reissues of Jean-Michel Frank’s furniture designs for Hermès, as well as its signature scarves, ties, leather goods, and ready-to-wear clothing. The success of this two-year renovation and restoration project is consonant with the carefully managed Hermès brand itself — a mix of tradition, contemporary craftsmanship, and an ever-evolving definition of luxury.


Owner: Hermès Sellier, France

13 rue du Mail, Paris 75002
Tel: 33 (0) 1 42 60 04 82
Fax: 33 (0) 1 40 15 04 29

Denis Montel, artistic and managing director, DPLG (registered architect in France)

Joint project architects:
Domnique Hébrard, assistant artistic director, interior architect
Sybil Debu, architect DESA

Mathieu Alfandary, interior architect

Architect of record:
Jose Albertini,
Cabinet Albertini, ECA
Immeuble L'Européen 1390
avenue du Campon
06110 Le Cannet, France
tel 33 [0] 4 93 45 53 52
fax 33 [0] 4 93 46 76 89

Klaas de Rycke,
Bollinger + Grohmann Sarl
4 rue Bouvier 75011 France
tel +33 [0]1 44 64 00 10
fax 33 [0]1 44 64 05 15

L’Observatoire International

HVAC engineers:
Secath Concept
25 rue Hoche - esc 2
91260 Juvisy sur orge France
tel 1 69 21 29 03
fax 33 [0] 1 69 45 17 50

Electrical Engineers:
36 rue de Montreuil
75011 France
tel 33 [0]1 43 79 0570
fax 33 [0]1 43 79 06 07

General contractor:
Cabin Structure
Holzbau Amann Gmbh
Albtalstrasse 1, D-79809
Weilheim-Bannholz, Allemagne
077 55 92 01 0 fax+ 077 55 92 01 26

Michel Denance tel + [0]  6 15 90 87 02
Bruno Clergue tel +33 [0] 6 85 71 95 55

All images by RDAI

CAD system, project management, or other software used:
Rhinoceros ®, Grasshopper, VB script, 3d max, V ray


17 rue de Sèvres, Paris 75006 France

Completion Date:

18th November 2011

Gross square footage

3,197 sq. ft.



Metal finishes and specialist hardware
Société Gendre
21 rue Marzelle de Grillaud
 44100 Nantes, France
Tel +33 [0] 2 40 46 22 48
fax +33 [0] 2 40 58 03 24

Interior finishes
Traditional plaster ceiling finishes:
Blanch Art
204 rue de la Croix Nivert
75015 Paris France
Tel +33 [0] 1 45 58 43 43
fax +33 [0] 1 45 58 43 44

Paints and stains:
Alesia Peinture
52/54 rue de Gergovie
75014 Paris, France
Tel +33 [0] 1 45 42 04 46
fax +33 [0] 1 45 42 21 19

Floor and wall tile:
Européenne de Marbre
88 rue de Rivoli, 75004 Paris, France
Tel +33 [0] 1 47 03 42 62
fax +33 [0] 1 42 61 43 31

Shop furniture:
Ateliers du Marais – ADM
Rue Thomas Edison, Z.I. Brais
 44600 St Nazaire France
Tel +33 [0] 2 40 91 55 26
fax +33 [0] 2 40 01 23 10