Visitors to Hermès’ 8 Ties art exhibition in Beijing expecting a display of exquisitely curated silk ties were likely surprised to find psychedelic, pixel-inspired art swirling around them as they move. Hermès brought its collaboration with French digital artist Miguel Chevalier—an interactive digital art exhibition—to Beijing in April and Ningbo in May. This was after successful runs last year in Shenyang and Nanjing, as well as around the world.
The 8 Ties exhibition was held at the 2014 Art Beijing fair from April 30 to May 5, and was the third stop of its China tour. It moved to Heyi Shopping Center in Ningbo from May 9 to May 15.
Hermès creative director for men’s silk Christophe Goineau commissioned Chevalier for this exhibition. 8 Ties’ inspiration comes from “8-bit,” referring to a design scheme that harks back to the low-fidelity pixels of computing in the past. Networks of digital pattern projections interact with people via infrared camera as continuous music composed by Jacopo Baboni Schilingi, inspired in part by sound effects from classic video games, plays in the background.
The patterns vary by location. The Beijing exhibition featured patterns inspired by Alpine skiing, foosball, equestrians, and more. Chinese e-paper The Beijing News reports that unlike Hermès’ two exhibitions in Shenyang and Nanjing, the Beijing stop plays an important role in its presence as a “platform for artistic exchange” at Art Beijing.
The exhibition is also a way for visitors to discover Hermès’ new fall/winter line, also called 8 Ties, of slim ties that are eight centimeters wide. Chevalier’s previous work Le Vague des Pixels caught Hermès’ eye. Hermès saw that Chevalier’s digital work of undulating moving patterns resembled the movement of silk, and felt that it would be a great way to present its new line of ties that features repeated sports motifs.
Hermès is not alone as a luxury brand dabbling in art for promotional purposes. Fendi, Hugo Boss, Jimmy Choo, Chanel, and Bottega Veneta are among some of the brands that have promoted or held art efforts in order to raise their sophistication and public profile.
As brands take their exhibitions to cities other than the usual Beijing and Shanghai, as Hermès did with Shenyang and Nanjing, and Dior with Chengdu, these companies can tap into the rising clout of these less-oft talked about Tier 2 cities.