Meet HENRI, our artisan specialized in the art of the invisible

At Par Excellence, we champion the best of the best of French craftsmanship and expertise. We are very pleased to announce that a new artisan has joined our collective: HENRI. This prestigious company is a leader in home automation technology and specializes in the integration of electrical and electronic solutions in high-end interior design projects. We spoke with Michael Sherman, the CEO of HENRI and the grandson of the company’s founder, to find out more about their expertise and how they create the “art of the invisible”.

Hello Michael, we are thrilled that HENRI has joined Par Excellence! How did you find out about Par Excellence and what does it mean to you to be part of this collective?

I heard about Par Excellence from Romain Jouffre who became a friend when I arrived in NYC, and he has partnered with HENRI on several projects in France. We actually already work with some of the members of Par Excellence on projects in France. Collaborating with Jouffre overseas and now joining them at Par Excellence is a natural and important next step for us. We share the same values of craftsmanship, history, excellence, and quality we care about and are proud of. We also bring this French touch and elegance that makes us so special. 

Can you please give us a background history of how HENRI started and the expertise that has made HENRI the top in the field of residential and commercial electronics and automation?

HENRI was established in 1961 by Henri Sherman, my grandfather. He started as a self-employed electrician. The care he put into his work and the service he gave his clients made his small company grow. His son, my father Lionel, entered the company in the early eighties. He first worked as an electrician to gain field experience before running the company. His proven track record combined with the high quality of his employees pushed the company to enter the premium market. He began to have an interest in home automation technology to offer more services to his clients and went to the U.S. to learn about this emerging technology that was coming out of America. He became the first importer of home automation solutions in France. I joined the company in 2010, first as a project manager, then as Technical Director. 

Today my father and I, respectively President and CEO of the company, still carry my grandfather’s values that propelled HENRI to the top of its field: excellence, elegance, and simplicity. 

“Monsieur Henri” is at the heart of your company. Can you please tell us about your grandfather who started the company and how his passion, values, and expertise has passed down through the generations through your father and now to you in carrying on his legacy?

My grandfather had a true love for his work and a deep respect for his clients. Although the company was thriving, he always kept a humble and simple posture, focusing on improving the quality of his services. Today, these values are still very present in the company. We have a strong family culture and team spirit and support each other whenever needed. Whatever the size and scope of the project we work on, we only have one goal: to be excellent, be elegant and always keep it simple: 

Excellent, because we support our clients with more than 60 years of experience, exclusive know-how, and a tailor-made follow-up of their projects. 

Elegant, because every solution and every detail are designed to blend in and enhance interiors.

Simple, because our solutions are thought to provide wellness and comfort in daily life by offering a simplicity of use.

 “We master transforming complex solutions into very simple uses” Lionel Sherman

Can you please tell us what HENRI can do for each market sector that you work in: Residential, Hospitality and Retail?

HENRI’s ambition is to enhance interiors and offer wellness and comfort in daily life. More than a technological solution, we advocate a true “art de vivre” by proposing advanced technologies that are simple to use and in perfect harmony with the interior design. Our approach is 100% focused on the user experience. 

In the residential area, we have a strong focus on using elegant solutions blending in with the décor while making everyday life easier: invisible speakers, customizable keypads, and simplified management of lights and screens. 

In the hospitality area, we focus on maximizing the user experience by providing simple tools to use for the client and the staff. Hotel clients usually stay for a short time so everything should be designed for them to have the best experience possible. 

Where in France are you located and how many people work in the company?

Historically based in Paris, HENRI today has three other offices: HENRI Côte d’Azur in Cannes to cover the French Riviera, HENRI Alpes in Annecy to cover the French and Swiss Alps, and HENRI New York to offer our clients continuity in our support in the American market. However, our know-how and expertise go far beyond these borders and we now have projects all around the world. HENRI now has 60 employees worldwide and is continuously looking for new talent.

How do you work with interior designers and architects? At what stage of a design project do you step in? What should designers think about in terms of technology that can create an integrated home?

We work in close collaboration with interior designers and architects. The sooner we are embedded in their project the better we can support them to offer tailor-made solutions for their clients.

Our support is entirely focused on the final result designers and architects want to achieve. We will provide them with all the necessary expertise, documentation, and know-how to help them realize their project as they have imagined and designed it. Our goal is to enhance their work by using elegant solutions that will blend in with the décor while ensuring wellness and comfort for their own clients.” Michael Sherman

Our motto is, “Always keep it simple.” Henri Sherman

You have worked on many of the 5-star hotels in Paris, including Le Meurice Hôtel, Hôtel de Crillon, and The Lutétia Hôtel. Can you tell us about some of these projects, especially your recent one at the Cheval Blanc Hôtel in Paris? Are there any advanced automation features that you could tell us about?

Our intention is to design and integrate solutions that are elegant and simple to use. We install everything but gadgets and fancy tools. We are as minimalist and classical as possible. Hotel clients usually stay for a limited time and expect to enjoy their stay. They shouldn’t have to waste time trying to understand how to make things work in their room. 

We believe technology is aimed at simplifying one’s life, not making it more complicated, especially in a hotel room. We usually work with solutions that everybody knows how to use, such as remote controls for TV, Bluetooth systems for music, and simple switches for lights. That’s what we have recommended and installed in the Cheval Blanc in Paris. 

Can you please tell us about a project that was challenging and the solutions that you came up with?

The Lutétia Hôtel was a very interesting challenge. The owner wished to have only touchscreens in the rooms and no switches to centralize the management of lighting, temperature, window shades, and room access, which we did in each of their 184 rooms. We did very specific and focused work on the interface and ergonomics of the screens to make them as user-friendly as possible. According to the Technical Director of the hotel, the clients have been satisfied so far with the installed screens and enjoy the experience.

Can you please explain how automation can simplify everything in a hotel and a residence?

We mostly work on large high-end residential projects: houses, penthouses, apartments, and villas. It is simply impossible to manage all the lights, window shades, audio and video systems, door access, and temperature controls without having them centralized (unless you want to spend hours every morning and night switching everything on and off). Our vision for home automation is to enhance interiors and simplify daily life, such as listening to your favorite piece of music wherever you are in the house by using a simple command and coordinating interior lighting with the circadian cycle so you always have the perfect light, with only one switch needed. Once you’ve experienced well-integrated technology in a home, it’s almost impossible to go back.

Technology is becoming a touchstone of all aspects of our lives. In the coming years, automation systems will be essential, it seems, in our homes and in retail and hotels. This is something that interior designers and architects need to become familiar with as it is the wave of the future and will be an important planning aspect of design projects. Can you elaborate on this, please? 

We believe technology is meant to make daily life and user experience better. Our motto is, “Always keep it simple!” Still today, home automation is perceived by some designers, architects, and end clients, as complicated and non-user friendly. It is a fact that private homes and hotels are getting more and more “connected” and dependent on technology, but the important point is not the technology itself, but how it has been engineered, integrated, and maintained. This is exactly our know-how and expertise. We also train our staff on a regular basis, so they are always ahead of the latest news in terms of innovation.

HENRI uses the latest technology in all of your projects. What future innovations are you most excited about? 

We work with suppliers known for their reliability and their expertise. We maintain a close collaboration with them so that we can always offer the most relevant and qualitative technology to meet our clients’ needs and provide them with wellness and comfort.

Please tell us about the different automated technologies available and something that people would be surprised even exists.

We mainly work on lighting control systems, motorized shading solutions, music, and video distribution, private theaters, security, access control, network and Wi-Fi, and the easy control of all these integrated systems through touchscreens, remote controls, smartphones, and tablets.

I’m more interested in the user experience than the technologies themselves. Our best reward is when a client can’t even guess that the room he is in is full of technology. That listening to his favorite music or dimming the lights at night for a perfect ambiance is so easy that he can’t imagine that we have plugged intelligent systems behind every switch and installed yards and yards of wires in the walls. The art of the invisible is our expertise and is probably what surprises our clients most when they have a look “behind the scenes”. 

Your residential project, The Grand Prix House, is extraordinary and has won multiple awards.  Can you please tell us about this project? We love the illuminated constellation in the ceiling in the media room, and the pool area and the garage are also unique spaces. It feels like James Bond’s house.

“The art of the invisible is our expertise and is probably what surprises our clients most when they have a look “behind the scenes”. Michael Sherman

The villa is more than 3000m² spread over five levels. It is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful projects delivered by HENRI. It is an exceptional technical achievement, offering real comfort to our clients.

We had the chance and the great pleasure to support an exceptional client. His involvement and availability allowed us to realize a tailor-made installation, catering to his needs. We were thus able to fully bring to bear our expertise and know-how and delivered a project that was perfectly completed according to our high standards.

At the owner’s request, we pushed the home automation integration to its maximum by implementing a solution capable of controlling all the systems of the villa. Each piece of equipment (televisions, speakers, switches) was thoroughly studied in order to be meticulously integrated into the decoration. Finally, each user interface (touchscreens, tablets, remote controls) was carefully designed to be simple and intuitive and thus bring more comfort to the client.

Do you have a dream project?

We work on high-end residential projects. For some of our clients, the sky is the limit. Every time I think I’ve seen the craziest project, a crazier one shows up. At HENRI, we have strong values of simplicity and excellence. That’s what we stand for. My dream project is to keep and maintain these values, whatever the scope or the ambition of the projects we work on. A simple letter to thank us or an invitation to watch a movie with the client in his private cinema room we had just installed are some of the best rewards we ever received.

To learn more about HENRI and their projects, please click here.

To schedule an appointment or inquire how HENRI can help with your project, please reach out to us here.