You never know quite what to expect from the windows at Hermès. But a shady corner of Hampstead Heath is quite a surprise in the middle of Bond Street, particularly as this idyllic recreation of the Heath — a mossy hill to roll down, a swing to daydream on, and a stream with a log balanced across it — is actually a carpet. Locus Amoenus is the poetic work of the Argentinian artist Alexandra Kehayoglou who uses a tufting gun in place of a paintbrush to produce detailed landscapes made from carpet. And these windows will stop you in your tracks as you contemplate a little bit of nature on a corner of London’s smartest shopping street.

“Stopping is the whole idea,” says Kehayoglou. She calls them “tufted landscapes” and says that when you look at them, time stops and you experience the stillness of the moment. She wants the viewer to experience her work through touch and smell as much as through sight. While you can’t touch the carpets in the windows, there is a wonderfully tufty, textured carpet on the first floor of the store that you are invited to walk or sit on. The only stipulation is that you remove your shoes. If Kehayoglou had her way you would be allowed to roll down the carpet hill she has created too. “I did a lot of rolling as a child,” she recalls, saying how important she thinks it is to see things through the eyes of a child.

At first you would be forgiven for thinking this was the work of a landscape gardener. But the more you look, the more you are sucked in by the textures, the subtle mix of colours, the dappled light through the tapestry leaves. “It is about our relationship as humans to nature,” she says. A carpet will wear out if you don’t look after it, and there are parallels with the way we treat the environment. We must tread carefully.  “Nature will prevail, ultimately we are at risk, not nature.”

A window display by Alexandra Kehayoglou for the Bond Street store. Photo by Melvyn Vincent

You may already be familiar with Kehayoglou’s work. She is the artist who created the extraordinary mossy carpet for Dries Van Noten’s catwalk for his spring/summer 2015 show. She recalls that she was given just 28 days to make it, something she says would be impossible even with a machine. But of course, she and her team of artisans tuft her carpets by hand and somehow — because nothing is impossible on Planet Fashion — she completed the epic 50mx3m carpet in time for the show.

When Hermès invited her to create the windows for the Athens store earlier this year, she was given a little more time. And those windows were such a success she was commissioned again to make some work for the windows in London. The brief was “nature at full gallop” and she chose Hampstead Heath as the reference. She spent a day there and got lost.  

She is based in Buenos Aires where she was born. “I come from a carpet family,” she says. Her grandmother was Greek, living in Turkey where her family made carpets. After the Greco-Turkish war after World War I, she moved to Argentina with her loom, and there she started making rugs with her sons. Over the years the company has grown into a big business, now a household name in Latin America. But instead of going straight into the family business, Kehayoglou went to art school for six years and then when she left, she started to work in the factory where she experimented with the waste wool. In the beginning she was playing with the scraps, but then she started to make all her work with it. “It was in my family, in my genes”’ she says.

Her work is truly original and has such a meditative quality about it you will feel strangely peaceful after seeing it. And do try to make some time to have a sit on the rug in the shop, allowing yourself to be transported. It’s like magic.

Hermès, 155 New Bond Street, London W1; http://alexkeha.com/

Text by Tamsin Blanchard

Brands: