23 September 2023
Job Smeets unveils his second collaboration with Hermès, Hortus Maximus
A gigantic vegetable garden window series for Hermès Hong Kong
August – November 2023
Dutch/Belgian artist Job Smeets and founder of Studio Job designs a magical vegetable garden for windows of Hermès Hong Kong, on display from August until November 2023. Studio Job and Hermès create a dream-like oasis in the bustling metropolis giving a utopian breath of fresh air, with nature bursting through the urban environment.
Inspired by the eccentric world of prize-winning vegetable growers and his own home vegetable garden in Belgium, Job Smeets weaves anthropomorphism into a strange and fantastical scene in the city, where animals take on the role of elegant farmers, and vegetables grow to awe-inspiring proportions, almost as if from a childhood dream but in this luxurious city location.
In this installation that could have walked off the pages of a storybook, the humble vegetable takes on gigantic proportions, inventing a new kind of maximalism —one that emanates from the very heart of nature itself. Created from detailed drawings and 3D models created by Studio Job, who are known for their bronze sculptural work, some of which can be seen referenced in the project; Tree of Life (Faena, Miami); the horses head directly from the 3D scan of the Nilfisk sculpture (at Chamber Gallery, NYC), to the Watering Can & Fruit Series. The blending of this surreal high-end finish and elevated lowland icons such as watering cans and wheelbarrows defines some of artist Job Smeets’s distinctive style. Each window exudes a fusion of icons and the prize-like displays of Chinese gourds, leeks and pumpkins is ‘filled with a sense of fairy-tale and how life was told to us as children’ explains the artist. The result is artful, playful and mysterious.
The project is the second collaboration between Job Smeets and Hermès, with Job designing the windows across all 70 Hermès windows in France for this summer season. In this second collaboration, Job and his studio worked in a different way, which can be seen in the distinctive outcomes of the two projects. This first collaboration (Life on Mars) was created by the Hermès producers directly from Job’s sketches, whereas this second collaboration (Hortus Maximus) was formed from detailed drawings and 3D models created by Studio Job and built by the Hermès producers. Both projects were created at a similar time by the artist but have dramatically different results. (The first project ‘Life on Mars’ created a vision of the ultimate hot summer: humans colonising Mars. Named after the Bowie classic it imagines how that would look, from a game show in the red sand, to a frites shop on a volcano.)
“I felt like a chess player doing two projects simultaneously in two different parts of the world for contrasting audiences, and choosing to use two different creative processes. It’s really ‘method’ designing when you crawl inside someone else’s universe. For me it’s a creative challenge to do a complex project with the same brief for the same company at the same time, and have two unique outcomes. For the windows in Hong Kong it’s grounded in the mannerism style by blowing the proportions up, in that way it becomes even more real and surreal, it becomes hyper-real. Life on Mars for France was very tactile, theatrical and intimate, ‘Hortus Maximus’ is bold and astonishing, a photorealistic scene exploring the form of the vegetables and the texture and architecture of the plants created by nature.” – artist Job Smeets.
The windows will be on view in Hermès flagship store, Landmark Price, 10 Chater Road Central Hong Kong until November 2023.