I first met the Spanish designer Jaime Hayon at a party in Milan several years ago. He was the best dressed man in the room (for Milan that's really saying something), and he was also one of the most interesting. His ideas are big and colourful and always fun.
Jaime's expansive creative interests have established his career in a territory that traverses art and design. The Hotel Barceló Torre in Madrid, a discovery space at the Groninger Museum in The Netherlands, furniture for Cassina, Moooi or Arflex, or the Merry Go Zoo installation for the Woodruff Arts Centre in Atlanta, Georgia.
It is that combined passion which gives the work its enchantment, and a freedom from logic and joy in the fantastical that brings out the child in all of us. For Jaime that can be expressed by a large green chicken, a giant porcelain doll or a zebra-striped polar bear wearing a gold top hat.
Here we catch up again as Hayon is on the hop between Taipai and Valencia, and projects for the Madrid Design Festival, the Milwaukee Museum of Art, and the 'Funtastico' show that opens in Taipei next month.
MS: Your work takes you all over the world, what does a day in the life of Jaime Hayon look like?
JH: A day in my life can look like anything. There are traveling days where you wake up immersed in a new and different culture and are able to take in and give, exploring things from a new perspective. There are local days, when I work in my office in Valencia with my team there to develop ideas for projects. There are father days, where I pick up my kids and turn off my phone to give them the quality time I have missed during the travelling days. There are days where I work from a cafe all day because the sun shines in a special way. There are infuriating days where nothing seems to flow. Like the rest of us, there are many types of days, perhaps with the luck of being able to do what I am passionate about.
Colour, fun and artful adventure always appear in your work – how have your Spanish roots, training in industrial design and work at Fabrica shaped your philosophy and your work?
I don't think too much about reasons of why I am or my work is the way it is. I prefer to accept my identity and explore it to new depths each time. I have had the luck to travel and to learn from many different cultures and people and these are all very strong inspirations. I have never questioned my relationship with fantasy - it has always been a part of how I see the world and how I wish the world would be. I try to keep this as free from logic as I can in order to nurture this instinct and have fun with it. Shouldn’t life be as fun as you can make it?
With studios in Italy, Spain and Japan, can you describe the focus of each office?
The various teams have different tasks but we are all one big family. Valencia is the creative base with a team that backs the conception of projects and provides the tools I need for the creative direction of the work. Italy is a development base with expertise and knowhow on technical development. Japan is a PR base for the region. There is also Barcelona, that handles the general direction of the studio, client relations, PR. We all work tightly and together, each from our respective places and meet frequently to work and also to have a good time together. I am lucky to have a very enthusiastic and skilled team.
You produce art, installations, interiors, products and finely-crafted limited edition work – how important for you is the diversity of those collaborations?
I need to explore different media and languages. It is part of who and how I am personally. I am quite lively and need new stimuli to keep the focus strong. I find diversity enriches my work and allows me to learn constantly.
What are some of the craft challenges that have been most important in the development of your career and practice so far?
I've admired and worked closed to many different artisans that have great skill. When working with a traditional material or way or making, I find it essencial to sit down with the masters and see how they do what they do. This allows me to understand the limits of each material and craft and often try to challenge these but within a respect for there tradition and the potential. From glass cutters, to porcelain sculpturers to wood workers, the atelier is always the best place to find ways to enhance your creativity and learn.
Are there particular craft skills that you are keen to give new life to, and in that way keep them alive?
I am intrinsically curious and each time I find new challenges with new materials or crafts, I normally get very exited about how I can translate this into my world and bring a new angle to away it's done.
Bosa is the first place where I was able to explore ceramics. We have an amazing relationship and they are like family to me. During my Fabrica years, Mr Bosa was happy to allow me to use the atelier and even invest in my wacky experiments. This is the place where my first art installation comes from and it has been crucial to my path as a creative.
I have worked with many brands over the years and whether they are smaller and younger or solid and historic, I have always been sensitive about understanding what their strength is and trying to work together with them to take this stregth to a new level. I have great respect for the companies I work with and the best way I can express this is by taking care or their DNA and working together with them to explore new frontiers.
What books are you reading now, and music you are listening to?
I'm not much of a reader - I am a visual guy. With music, I like to mix it up a lot.
What’s on the drawing board at Hayon Studio and what new launches can we expect?
We are working on various exhibitions at the moment. The 'Funtastico' show in Taipei will open at the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park on the 20th December this year, and will focus on our more artistic work. In December, we are also showing works at the Milwaukee Museum of Art. The Milwaukee show will feature the green chicken, 'Technicolor' (vases & tapestries), some pieces from the 'Tiovivo' show, and the new set of blown glass vases titled 'Afrikando'. It is a combination of work shown previously at the High Museum and new work created specially for he Milwaukee Museum of Art. We have another exhibit focused on creativity and process that will be part of the Madrid Design Festival. It opens in February next year at the Centro Cultural Fernan Gomez. In parallel, we are developing new products together with Fritz Hansen, & Tradition, Wittmann… There is a lot going on right now.