Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Jaime Hayon: Design rebel with a playful streak

A curious mind–and a healthy body–keep this Spanish artist’s creative juices flowing
/ 05:02 AM September 13, 2017

Hayon talks about design at the Republic of Fritz Hansen in Bonifacio Global City. -ALEXIS CORPUZ

In a move that surprises Ben Chan himself, dinner guest Hayon not only autographs but also draws on the inner seat of his Favn Chair. –THELMA SANJ UAN

Surveying Jaime Hayon’s works on his website, it’s easy to see that the Spanish designer is a rebel at heart with a playful side to him.

His rugs for Spanish company Nani Marquina and the Italian brand Nodus are visual overloads of colors and child-like designs. His candy bowls for Baccarat come with
animal-shaped crystal lids, and his side table for DB Barcelona is a concrete bust of a monkey holding up a tray.

Such qualities, with his trademark sculptural curves, are also the essence of his collaborations with Danish furniture company Fritz Hansen.


Not quite a circle, square or oval, his Analog table is a fusion of three shapes resulting in a new and organic form.
His Favn sofa was inspired by an egg, whose hard shell conceals a soft, inviting interior. And his Ro easy chair, with cushioned backrest and spacious, slightly inclined seat, is the perfect place for curling up with a good book or catching a quick nap.


Hayon, who was in Manila recently to give a talk on design, admits that his initial collaborations with Fritz Hansen were based on specific parameters laid out by the Danish furniture maker.

Hayon’s Fri Chair enhances a modern Filipino home with a Ronald Ventura work. -THELMA SAN JUAN

“I actually tried to challenge that all the time,” he declares, “because we’ve realized that going by intuition and experimentation, which is the design platform that we’ve created, is what makes it work. It’s much more important than just following a brief.”

This freer, more open approach to design, however, doesn’t mean he’s forgotten the real purpose behind his pieces. Noting that his creations are meant to be used by people, the designer says, “I try to be very precise in providing comfort, trying to find the right dimensions.”

Mission accomplished with Lune, Hayon’s latest sofa for Fritz Hansen. Roomy enough to accommodate family members or a group of friends, the cushiony, “hugging” sofa comes in two-seat, three-seat, three-seat with chaise longue, and five- and six-seat corner styles.

“It’s a sofa you can make as you want,” describes its designer. “It’s an easy, modular, comfortable and flexible unit.”

Born in Madrid in 1974, Hayon knew he would be an artist, and not just because he was drawing all the time. “I had a curious mind,” he says, “and a curious mind means a lot. When you are curious, you will go for something creative.”

His design sensibilities were first formed through his exposure to the skateboard and graffiti art culture of the ’80s, and then by the Benetton-funded design and communications academy Fabrica, which he joined in 1997, and where he was quickly promoted to its design department head.


He set up his own design studio in 2000, and now runs offices in Italy, Japan and his native Spain, and has collaborated with a diverse roster of clients that includes Lladro, Swarovski, Camper footwear, Madrid’s La Terraza del Casino restaurant, and the Swiss timepiece brand Orolog.

He just finished working on a hotel in Madrid, is about to start another hotel project in London, and has art projects in Taipei and Milwaukee.


“The way I see things, there’s still a lot to do,” he says when asked if artists have exhausted all the possibilities of design.

“If you think design is only about function,” he points out, “you’re done because there’s a lot of functional design. But if you think that after function, design can speak to you and communicate a certain type of happiness, then you’re not done yet.

Jaime Hayon describes the Lune as a “hugging” sofa. -PHOTOS BY ALEC CORPUS

Ro chair

He adds: “I don’t dream about designing anything new, but more about making something beautiful that challenges me and the way I think.”

Today, Hayon hasn’t lost his passion for observing and questioning. Fascinated by objects we would otherwise take for granted (like the camera used by the photographer for this shoot, for example), he finds pens interesting and toothbrushes bizarre.

“I love locks,” he adds, “because locks are different in every place. Whenever I close a door, I always look at a lock. To lock a door is interesting.”

This artist’s creativity is also fueled by a healthy lifestyle: He runs and bikes daily, avoids sugar, and cooks and eats a Mediterranean diet of veggies and fish.

“The body is an important element to your brain,” he explains. “If you take care of yourself, things will go well because you need to feel good to design for people. There’s too much excess in the world, too much going on, too much toxicity. I feel it’s important to take care of yourself, keep your feet on the ground and eat healthy.”

Fritz Hansen furniture is available at Dimensione.

Hayon with Ben Chan, the head of Suyen Corp., which brought Fritz Hansen to the Philippines

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