With people spending more time at home, luxury brands are launching new homeware
Cottoning on to the nesting trend among consumers, Cartier is the latest marque to debut a collection of objects for the home, ranging from trinket trays to baby rattles.
Let’s face it. Cartier probably isn’t the first name that comes to mind when you think of luxury homeware. It might be the first marque on recall if it’s a watch or jewel that you’re after. But homeware? Not quite.
The New Objects and Accessories collection seeks to change all that. Officially launched on Nov 1, the collection comprises everything from porcelain trinket trays and flower vases to leather-bound notebooks, lacquered wood jewellery boxes and even a sterling silver baby rattle – you know, for those little tykes born with a silver spoon in their mouths.
Oh, and did we mention that there are actually silver spoons in the collection meant for junior? In a pair, they form an adorable shape like a bunny head, with the handles as bunny ears.
The foray into homeware isn’t an entirely new enterprise for the French house that began life as a jeweller in 1847. By 1880, it had started producing everyday objects such as perfume bottles, powder compacts, inkwells and stationery items.
The idea was for consumers to enjoy a bit of everyday luxury: While you might only trot out the diamond parure on special occasions, the powder compact was something you could tote in your purse everywhere you went.
By the 1930s, production of everyday objects extended into lighters and belts, thanks to the creation of a silver department. Louis Cartier (1875–1942), the founder’s grandson and designer of the Santos and Tank watches, once said in a press interview: “In fact, we do not only produce luxury jewellery. I would say, monsieur, that jewellery like ours is as capable of adorning a woman’s shoulders with a dazzling necklace as it is of filling her handbag with a powder compact, a mirror, a small comb and even business cards, all stamped with the same seal of originality and art.”
To be fair, objects and accessories have always been a part of Cartier’s retail offering; it’s just that now, the marque is choosing to emphasise these creations as a cohesive selection.
A shrewd move, if you ask us. With consumers spending more time at home than ever before, the idea of well-designed objects for the home – and, by extension, the concept of everyday luxury – seems perfectly suited to the pandemic era.
Enter the four collections: Cartier Baby, Diabolo de Cartier, Entrelaces de Cartier and Panthere de Cartier. For diehard fans of Cartier, the marque’s icons, such as the panther and Double C motifs, are all well-represented across the collections.
For the uninitiated, the panther motif – or at least, the panther spots – made its first appearance on a watch in 1914. The feline was subsequently fleshed out on a necessaire (a small ornamental case for pencils, scissors, tweezers etc) in 1917, flanked by cypress trees.
That design is replicated on the Panthere de Cartier series, appearing on trinket trays, jewellery boxes, pencil holders, flower vases, cards, notebooks and even a solitaire board.
The Double C, meanwhile, appears in abstracted form as a ribbon motif on the Entrelaces de Cartier range. The interwoven initials belonged to Louis Cartier: It was his monogram, which he used as a seal.
The Diabolo de Cartier pieces aren’t designed around any one single motif; in fact, they sport a jumble of icons such as the Cartier bellboy, the panther, the Cartier red box and so on. Rather apt, considering how “diabolo” means “juggling” in French.
As for Cartier Baby, the pieces feature a menagerie of animals, including a butterfly, rabbit, panda and fox. This has its roots in the small, hard-stone, decorative sculptures designed by Louis Cartier in the early 20th century, which were a veritable zoological gallery of creatures.
Truth be told, we’re quite surprised that Cartier didn’t come up with more statement-making items, such as dinnerware, cutlery and stemware. Again, it would be a strategic move given the growing trend towards home entertaining. Perhaps that’s next on the cards?