It’s a rare designer who consistently creates products that are exuberant, contemporary yet steeped in history and memory. Meet designer extraordinaire Jaime Hayon.
When you see Spanish artist-designer Jaime Hayon’s work, the word that comes to mind is ‘happy’. Each of his designs, whether they are furniture, accent pieces or interiors, has a sense of exuberance that coaxes a smile to your face and what better compliment to a designer than bringing a spot of sunshine to a customer’s day?
Hayon (b.1974) studied industrial design in Madrid and Paris. He then joined Fabrica – the Benetton-funded design and communication firm where he directed the design department until 2003. He set up his studio in 2000 and began his own independent projects from 2003.
Hayon’s widely-praised work is now held in permanent collections in some of the world’s most prestigious museums and galleries and he has collaborated with prestigious firms like Baccarat, Bosa, Lladro and others.
In a 2011 interview with House and Home magazine, Hayon says that while he is inspired by life, he is also curious about “things that are a little bit strange”. This fascination for another dimension shows in his designs which carry traces of graffiti, folklore and childlike humour.
Take for example his designs in porcelain and ceramic. The Happy Susto Vases for BD Barcelona are blue and white vases with optional designs (faces and feet) that bring out your inner child. The cheerful Folkifunki tableware collection brings in Portuguese folklore with traditional motifs in contemporary colours. Doodles, scribbles and watercolour shapes emphasise the flora and fauna associated with the region.
Similarly, the Kutani Choemon collection designed for traditional Japanese porcelain company Choemon highlights unique artwork created by Hayon which was inspired by Japan’s rich and varied culture. For this collection, Hayon travelled across Japan and worked with traditional craftsmen to understand the links between people, their tableware and the intersection with food and emotion.
The Chinoz lamps are a glossy collection of lights for Parachilna. Chinoz showcases urn-shaped ceramic bodies with blown-glass diffusers and a dimmer-switch built into a vertical slit in the lamp body. The lamps are striking whether in elegant, plain colours or with simple patterns. The Fantasy collection for Spanish porcelain brand Lladro has figurines with a distinctive Hayon touch.
The character in the series ‘Lover’ is wearing shoes that Hayon had designed for Camper while elements from carnivals, childhood and family – all Hayon favourites – show up in others.
For Baccarat, Hayon created a whimsical set of decanters and crystalware that replicates design ideas like tropical fruit, water drops and a cuddly wildlife triptych for the Bacarrat Zoo collection. The table collection for Bosa is similarly elegant with a twist of unexpected pattern that gives you a jolt of aesthetic pleasure. Elegant porcelain stoneware is enamelled in glossy white then decorated in black and 24 karat gold, all applied by hand, to create a charming addition to the table.
Hayon’s designs for furniture include the Showtime series for Bernhardt Design. This multiple-collection series which spans a decade features furniture designed to bring back the era of MGM musicals. The Showtime Chair was first introduced in 2007 with a customisable seat with scooped sides that are attached to a curved backrest and arms. A new version – the Showtime Nude Chair – was launched in 2017 with a seat cushion and no other upholstery.
The playfulness and characteristic good humour in Hayon’s work is also evident in serious yet silly designs like the Monkey Table, a concrete monkey holding a tray over its head like a waiter. Hayon references traditional African designs which have similar animal shaped furniture but in wood. The concrete gives it a contemporary touch and adds a welcome severity to an otherwise playful design.
Hayon’s first foray into plastic furniture was the Mila chair for Magis. The curved backrest has thin supports and arms that join the rest of the frame towards the legs. An optional upholstered back and seat gives the chair an added advantage of being versatile.
The designer also creates interiors for stores and hotels. These spaces are brilliant showcases of Hayon’s whimsy and eye for detail. Hayon’s interest in architecture and interiors goes beyond designing spaces, though. He designed a series of wooden furniture shaped to look like the iconic buildings of Le Corbusier.
These include buildings in France and Chandigarh. The Réaction Poétique collection was created for Italian furniture brand Cassina to commemorate the 50th death anniversary of the revered Modernist architect. All pieces are made from solid ash, stained black and hand-carved.
For someone who thrives on exaggerating colour, shape and contours, this determination to stick to one palette was a slight departure from the norm. Despite this, the Corbusier tables, like all his other designs, are still distinctly Hayon – pleasing to the eye, with a sense of history and absolutely joyful to the core.
Text By ChryselleD’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy The Designer