Hermès – The Gift Of Time

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Some of us dream of pausing time, or going back in time. But we can never stop the march of time.

Hermès presents The Gift Of Time – an exhibition at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. Designed by Hilton McConnico, the exhibition tells a story (or several) about Hermès with contemplations of time. The concept of time is inherent to all the exhibits, with the exhibition space represented as time itself – with a circular, clock-like, walk-through layout. It provides playful interpretations to time (free time, suspending time, cycles of time, what comes with time, etc) with the use of Hermès products to construct various installations.

Whether you are a fan of Hermès or not, you should plan a trip to The Gift Of Time. The exhibition is free and will be open to public from now till 12 August 2012, 11:00AM ~ 09:00PM daily. Some areas of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station are also open to public during this period.

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The Gift Of Time, or Le temps devant soi is Hermès’ theme for 2012. Earlier this year, the House unveiled a video (and some interactive “animation toys”) for the theme on Les Ailes d’Hermès.

“Play time with Hermès. Give your own meaning to taking your time… Are you a hare or a tortoise?
Live life at your own pace. Timely surprises on Hermes.com”


Let’s take a tour around the exhibition, starting with the first room.

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The Origin Of Time

Never forget: the first role of Light is to make the Dark more beautiful, and not to measure out the days.

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The exhibition starts off with this installation with a captivating sculpture of time, constructed with an Astrologie scarf (cut to a circle) and a Horse-shaped marker in the middle.

A rotating lamp shines on the marker, casting a shadow on the scarf. Astrologie is a design featuring signs of the zodiac, and what appears to be markers of time, as expressed by “Dies et Hore” on the print, meaning “Days and Hours”.

This piece is accompanied with two horse heads and bridles – made by Hermès, of course.


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The second room is filled with white tiles, arranged in grids on the walls and ceiling. Over here, visitors can collect a small pouch (the iconic herringbone canvas, no doubt) to store their watches and mobile phones, to “lose track of time” while in the exhibition.

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Each tile bears a message, or a video display. This one caught my eye:

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The Hermès Chaîniste video (which can be found on Les Ailes d’Hermès) which showcases signature chains from Hermès, including the Chaîne d’Ancre, Aléa, Boucle Sellier, Acrobate and many more. Shown above is the Geant version of Chaîne d’Ancre.

Time Suspended

‘In the ring, a stallion gathered his strength, his muscles tensing to tackle a huge jump.
With boundless energy, the animal launched into the air.’
By the time the horse’s hoof touched the ground the sun was already low in the afternoon sky.’

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On display in this section is the Arceau Le Temps Suspendu (Suspended Time), a watch that “suspends” time (or at least, the perception of time) with the push of the button on its left. When it is triggered, the watch’s hands will slide into the position seen above. The marvelous aspect is that the watch is still running, and with another push of the button, the hands will slide back to the right position.

If you think this is amusing, go read about the Cape Cod Grandes Heures (Grand Hours), a watch where hours break free and become unequal. With Tempo adagio and Tempo accelerando segments, the idea is for the wearer to perceive their favourite periods of the day lasting longer, while the other hours just trickle away…

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There is also an ensemble of saddles, from a tiny one to a full-sized, dissected piece.

Time Balance

Night after night, the top span and danced on the table to the rhythm
of a beating heart, tracing its circle with the precision, patience and
pace of the second hand on a clockface.

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This massive spinning sculpture is made from several Hermès products.

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At the top is the Les Inversables, which holds several glasses – empty or full – and is capable of keeping the glasses upright when it is tipped in any direction. A spirit carafe or decanter, rests in the center.

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There’s a playful twist – the numbers on the spinning top are reversed and only appear correctly when viewed from the mirror at its base. Look at the photo above, then the ones further up.

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Carefully-placed Bleu d’Ailleurs bowls and plates, Iliane cutlery, some Chandernagor glasses and Tommy champagne flutes form a sort of unusual clock face at the bottom of this sculpture.

The Stroke Of Time

‘The bag counted the seconds and marked off the minutes, hoping to sense
the onset of maturity, taking care of its skin (the mark of that patient ambition),
cultivating a fine patina…

Leather purrs beneath the gentle stroke of time.’

There are three bags in this room, starting with:

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Torpédo bag, circa 1990. Natural cowhide and gold-plated brass.
I thought a Bolide bag has melted on top of a trunk.

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Malette bag, circa 1920. Pigskin-grained cowhide and nickel-plated brass.
It definitely looks well traveled with the heavy patina, but it’s still in one piece.

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A Toolbox bag goes in the middle of the two historic bags, hailing from a new generation (released in 2010). In an arresting shade of green, it swings like a pendulum between the Malette and Torpédo – signifying the cyclical passage of time, perhaps?


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A parrot, constructed from leather and paper pieces, in a cage. A giant version of the Cadena padlock, in the form of a perfume bottle, is locked onto the perch (not pictured, sorry).

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And then, there is this image of a cat… made from leather swatches!

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I shall.. resist pointing out the different types of leather.

Imaginary Time

Who? When? How? Where?
STOP.
Escape into the imaginary, for a moment.


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I believe this dark room is designed to be a pause between two rather busy areas, with some comfortable benches for visitors to rest. There is a bowl in the middle, with light projected through it into a mesmerizing blob on the ceiling.

The Gift Of Time

Beneath the branches of an ageless tree,
after thousands of years of deep thought,
Time concluded that there was no end.

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There are a lot of exhibits in this room, many of which are interspersed with Hermès products. The clock attached to the tree in the middle of the room promises a surprise every three minutes. The spot lighting here for exhibits at the sides of the room changes quite spontaneously, hence the different sort of light for the photos below:

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Although the exhibition is rather small – taking up just the middle section of the Railway Station’s Atrium – it is amusing, captivating and sometimes thought-provoking. Hilton McConnico designed it to discuss and play with abstract ideas of time, but without being overly poetic. While The Gift of Time is not designed as an interactive experience, several exhibits are animated: either to express time, to show more, or to give a tease. It’s not a typical art exhibition.

Just like the Festival des Metiers last year, this is not an Hermès store in disguise. No products are available for sale. Which you might be thankful for, because those “infamous” Sales Associates will not be here.

I particularly enjoyed how products are used to represent very abstract concepts, and also to reflect that Hermès as a brand with equestrian roots, a flair for “creative utilitarianism” and passion for craftsmanship. There is a lot more beyond Birkins, Kellys and scarves. It is also another rare opportunity to view the House’s handmade items up close (and even touch some of them).

However, do note that given the exhibition’s size, it is limited in capacity and you might have to wait before being allowed in. Guided tours are also available, but no schedule was posted.

While you’re there, if you want a quick bite or drink, The U café is located near the exhibition.

The Gift Of Time is a travelling exhibition, with its first stop at ELEMENTS Mall, Hong Kong in June 2012. The exhibition will leave for Paris after completing its run in Singapore.


Event Details

Hermès – The Gift of Time
August 01 2012 – August 12 2012

Tanjong Pagar Railway Station
30 Keppel Road

11:00am – 9:00pm daily
Free admission
Parking available on-site, for exhibition visitors only.

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3 Responses to Hermès – The Gift Of Time

  1. ilyana August 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    Trust Singapore to have all these amazing exhibits etc when I’m not around, they go into hiding when I’m home and start plotting numerous artsy showcases that appear when I’m gone .__. Anyway, beautiful entry bb – I enjoyed reading every last detail!

    • Dejiki August 1, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

      I must say that Singapore is especially lucky to have both Festival des Metiers and The Gift of Time shown here. I mean, I’m surprised they don’t do this in Japan (which is often marked as a different territory out of Asia, almost like its own continent, in Hermès’ financial reports XD). But don’t worry, there’s definitely more to come as the clientele here is especially strong and powerful.

      Thanks bb! 🙂

  2. veronica manlow October 4, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    you really brought this exhibition to life!

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