Jaime Hayon is a designer who strives to create alternative environments into which we can all immerse ourselves. He invites us to temporarily step into a physical expression of his imagination, a sort of fantasy world complete with the kind of spaces you might expect to experience in a movie or on the pages of a children’s book.
His success can be attributed to the strong belief he sustains in his own vision and points of interest. “I always follow my intuition and try to bring to life ideas that are related to worlds I’m fascinated by. I am drawn towards lost worlds – those of medieval times, circuses, magic and so on”, admits Hayon. “I try to mix these ingredients within my work.”
The Face Mirror Mask by Jaime Hayon at "Funtastico" exhibition, Holon Design Museum; Image by Liah Chesnokov
Born in Madrid, Hayon trained as an industrial designer, completing his studies in Madrid and Paris before working as a researcher at Fabrica, Benetton Group’s communication research centre in Treviso, Italy. During this six-year period, Hayon spent his spare time developing his own ideas, principally graphics and drawing. He nurtured the foundations for his fascination with ‘strange stories and experiences’ in his work and this has remained prevalent until today.
Not afraid to dress up in flamboyant outfits befitting of his fantasylands, this charismatic designer operates on the design scene with the autonomy of an artist. Liberated by such freedoms, he has surprised and delighted international audiences since dedicating his time to his own studio in 2003.
His concepts, whether they be one-off or for mass production, always begin as sketches derived from his imaginary world. His captivating drawings are core to his development process and are where the fluid lines of his pen or brush flow freely on the page, alive with colour and complexity. His sketchbooks are where objects come to life such as Pinocchio-esque vases, ceramic cacti, and zoomorphic sculptures. These ideas are distilled and detailed, evolving to renderings, models and prototypes with tweaks made along the way.
Sketch by Jaime Hayon; Credit to: Hayon studio
Over the past fifteen years, Hayon has worked on a broad spectrum of projects from furniture, lighting, ceramics, watches and toys to exhibition scenography, retail and restaurant interiors as well as self-initiated art projects. Awards have flowed in as rapidly as reputable clients from across the high-end design spectrum, including Bisazza, Bosa, Cassina, Fritz Hansen, Baccarat, Lladro, Metalarte, BD Barcelona, & Tradition, Ceccotti, Magis and Camper. Whatever the result, Hayon has steered a distinctive identity throughout his portfolio, his inimitable style always imbued with a playful energy and whimsical enthusiasm.
His current interest leans towards folklore, drawing on references from the mythological tales of places such as Hungary or Africa and their various traditions and beliefs. These references weave into the ideas being explored in his latest collaboration with Caesarstone, the pioneer and leading manufacturer of engineered quartz stone surfaces.
Stone Age Folk installation at Interior Design Show Toronto; Image by Vicky Lam
In collaboration with Caesarstone, Hayon creates Stone Age Folk, a landscape of ‘cosmic characters’, cartoon-like profiles and silhouetted figures that are applied to a variety of objects, some of which are functional and others more playful. “It’s about a combination of ideas from folklore to fauna to colour to material to stone to furniture,” explains Hayon. “You realise that these tables, cabinets or mirrors can be completely surreal; they can be functional but also not functional.”
The folklore themes referenced in these forms are treated graphically through the intricate techniques normally associated with the craft of inlay, in which a solid body of one material is cut out to receive sections of another to form the surface pattern. In this case, the material is entirely Caesarstone. “This project is about the sculptural nature of Caesarstone, it is about the brightness of the material and about combining the ingredients according to my own intuition.”
Hayon successfully uses both handmade processes and hi-tech production machinery, fulfilling his desire to combine tradition seamlessly with technology. “To combine a 21st Century high-tech material like Caesarstone with the creativity of the handmade provokes a sort of contrast and suggests that the uses for the material could be different,” he says. “I’m introducing a certain freedom in terms of graphical contrasts and showing how combinations of the material can be used together. I think this elevates the material to a higher level of perception.”
The installation at Interior Design Show Toronto marked the beginning of a yearlong collaboration with the designer, providing a glimpse into Hayon’s imagination prior to his kaleidoscopic installation during Milan Design Week in April. Occupying the magnificent Palazzo Serbelloni, viewers can expect to experience Hayon’s world on an architectural scale, where Caesarstone material is the precious component. This succeeds previous show stopping projects with talents such as Tom Dixon, Raw Edges and Philippe Malouin where the material is pushed to its creative limits.
One thing that seems clear across Hayon’s diverse repertoire is a lack of compromise. ‘I have to be happy with everything that I do. I love challenges and am obsessive about quality. The world too easily accepts mediocrity,’ he says. He rejects uniformity, preferring that whatever he adds to our material landscape feels fresh, is layered with stories and crafted to the highest standards, characteristics that have been integrated fully into this new chapter with Caesarstone.