Watch cases traditionally come in one of only a handful of shapes — round, rectangular, square, oval — but when the Los Angeles-born designer Ini Archibong came to make his first timepiece for Hermès, he “wanted to create something out of the box,” he says. The result is the Galop d’Hermès, a range of sleek women’s watches, in either steel or rose gold (inlaid diamonds optional), with a stirrup-shaped face inspired by the luxury brand’s equestrian heritage. Archibong, 35, originally trained as an architect but is now best known for his work as a furniture and lighting designer, creating sculptural glass pendant lamps and curvy steel chairs with chubby upholstered seats. Four years ago, when he met Philippe Delhotal — the creative director of Hermès Horloger, the Paris-based company’s watch division — his career took another unexpected turn. Delhotal invited Archibong, then a recent graduate of the prestigious L’École Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne in Switzerland, to create a timepiece for Hermès, and the designer subsequently spent time in the brand’s private archives outside of Paris before developing the Galop, whose case evokes the aerodynamic curves of a racehorse.
Archibong lives and works in a converted factory in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, and describes his home life as “a quiet refuge where my creativity unfolds.” But the results of his practice require a more adventurous season of “salons, fairs, manufacturing, speaking engagements, press appointments and development meetings,” he says, which recently took him from Paris to New York, London to Slovenia, Bratislava to Vienna and back again. We sent the designer an instant camera and asked him to document his travels.
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