Abstract animals

ECAL Master’s graduate Hongchao Wang creates a series of abstract store window displays for luxury French brand Hermés.

It’s a lucky design student who gets to showcase their work in the storefront windows of Hermès. But Hongchao Wang did just that, conceptualising a series of creative window displays for the luxury French brand’s fall/winter 2014 collection as part of his graduate project for his Master’s in Design for Luxury and Craftsmanship at ECAL in Switzerland.

Wang’s vitrine-like window displays for Hermès stores in Zurich and Geneva were inspired by Pablo Picasso’s “Bull” series of prints that reduce the animal to just a simple outline.  “The abstract painting is so carefully considered through the progressive development of each image, until it captures the absolute essence of the creature in as concise an image as possible,” the 2014 graduate says about the inspiration for his “Sketches of Animals” project. 

Using the same principles, Wang sketched the simple outline of various animals, including a horse, crab, fish and bird. He constructed the forms out of cherry wood and used Hermès products to “flesh out the animal”. The timber structure only resembled the animal once the carefully chosen objects were placed on the shelves, he explains.

A fish silhouette is brought to life with a printed plate as the eye, cushions as the scales and a crystal glass the tip of its antenna. 

After graduating from ECAL last year, Wang founded his own design studio, Benwu, with Royal College of Arts Master’s graduate Pen You. The London and New York City-based studio specialises in product, furniture and spatial design, with the mantra “good conceptual thinking can be applied to anything, and new experiences can stimulate creativity”.