Profile: Jaime Hayon – Facing the future

By Matt Balmer
February 3, 2018

Charm and colour run through Spanish designer Jaime Hayon’s portfolio, which combines a magical menagerie of creatures with a proven collection of mass-produced pieces.

by Kate Burnett
January 2018

Eighteen years after he opened his first design studio, Jaime Hayon has amassed a impressive body of work, and won the respecEighteen years after he opened his first design studio, Jaime Hayon has won the respect and admiration of the creative community worldwide and amassed an impressive body of work. Born in Madrid in 1974, his practice is now based in Valencia, on Spain’s Mediterranean coast, from where Hayon travels globally to both collaborate with some of the world’s leading manufacturers, and exhibit in leading galleries and at trade shows.

Hayon’s colourful style has a magical quality, often described as whimsical or even fantastical, which he brings to both commercial product design as well as sculptural art. Complex details of animated faces and forms bring his ceramic pieces to life, while smooth curves and soft shapes delineate the simpler style of his furniture. As well as its aesthetic appeal, Hayon’s work also has a cultural element which reflects his knowledge and appreciation of craftsmanship. Some of his collaborators, such as Lladró in Spain or Bose in Italy, represent centuries of expertise of working with the highest quality materials. Hayon has been able to learn from, and collaborate with, their teams of creatives and artisans, as well as testing the creative and technical limits of their manufacturing capabilities.

In person, Hayon exudes a breezy charm that is married with a considerable business acumen – qualities which have allowed him to sustain long working partnerships with manufacturers. On his website, he declares his “main interest is to find challenges and new perspectives continuously”, and he has clearly succeeded. His main body of commercial work has been creating products for interiors – seating, lighting, rugs, solid surfaces, and ceramics – with leading international manufacturers. But he has also created a large number of artworks in ceramics and textiles which have been shown in galleries worldwide and are now often a part of their permanent collections. Hayon’s commissions include last year’s Stone Age Folk, presented with Israeli company Caesarstone at the Milan Furniture Fair – a sculptural installation of large-scale pieces created from a range of Caesarstone’s quartz composite materials. Hayon has also worked for Italian companies including Magis and Bisazza, US company Bernhardt, and UK company Established & Sons. He recently launched a collection of rugs with Spanish specialist Nani Marquina.

One of Hayon’s longest ongoing collaborations is with Danish company Fritz Hansen. His first project with the manufacturer was in 2011, when it ran a design competition. Three designers were invited to respond to the brief and the winner was Hayon – and his Faun sofa. “He is great with shapes, and these are a key part of our design DNA,” explains Christian Andresen, Fritz Hansen’s head of design. “The Fritz Hansen glory days of the 1960s and 70s are all about shape, so it’s a focal point for us.” At the time of its launch, the Faun sofa was in the vanguard of a new style of seating design and it still remains in the collection. Andresen and Hayon are currently working on “four or five” new pieces for 2018.

Naturally, these product-making collaborations have extended into projects, and Hayon’s team have now worked on interior design projects all over the world. The designer’s spirit of openness and experimentation is underpinned by his respect for creative tradition and expertise. “All creative disciplines interact,” as Hayon says. “Everything you do brings back something you can use in your work – you have to be open-minded and learn from others.”

“Every designer has his own style – and wants to make his own clothes,” insists Hayon at the launch of his Jijbaba clothing range with fellow designer Jasper Morrison last September. “What we’ve done is fun and very interesting. With Jasper we’ve been finding our own road to exploring this new discipline. I’ve been looking at details and graphics, while Jasper has been focused on materiality – for example special wools in Scotland and Japan. When you’re true to yourself, it’s not such a difficult moment. It was important to us to find manufacturers who could help us deliver the right quality – and we’ve found some very good people to help us out. Our intention isn’t to create seasonal collections, we want to keep it honest and simple with comfort and tactility. We don’t know where it’s going, but it has been fun to see how things can interact together.”