“My biggest achievement is to still being of who I am”

“Something really stupid might become the next thing; something irrelevant may be the beginning of something that is really interesting” Jaime Hayon

Jaime Hayon’s father once told him that he had chosen a really difficult profession. “And yes I agree with that,” the famous Spanish designer told Indonesia Tatler Homes when he visited Jakarta earlier this year. That said, starting his career as an artist and continuing on as a designer, Hayon has become an icon in the industry over the years.

When he studied industrial design in Madrid and Paris, it was clear that only few of his peers would be able to transform their studies into actual careers—Hayon included. And so it was that after he graduated, he joined design firm Fabrica in Italy in 1997 as its head of Research Design.

“The company was like a special laboratory for ideas from creative people around the world, such as musicians, designers and artists,” Hayon explained. During his stint with Fabrica, the designer also started his own company in the year 2000, also based in Italy. And from 2003 onwards, he dedicated his time fully to his own career.

At that time, Jamie said that he really immersed himself in his company and that his experiences in doing this moulded his way of thinking. He also opened a studio in Spain before heading back to his home country after 15 years. Today, he is an icon in both the art and design industries.

Over time, Hayon has worked with many art galleries as well as famous interiors and fashion houses. His work is almost continuously on exhibition at many famous global events and galleries, such as Vivid Gallery, the Mak Vienna, the Groninger Museum, the Aram Gallery, London’s Design Museum, the Mudac Museum, Gallery Thomas in Munich, the Walker Art Center, the Pompidou and the Basel Art Fair. He has also undertaken various collaborations with world-leading brands like Fritz Hansen, Magis, Barcelona, Bisazza, Camper, Swarovski, Baccarat and many more.

Today, with offices in Italy, Spain and Japan, Hayon never stops creating. However, in person he comes across as very humble and casual, as we found out when we caught up with him.

Indonesia Tatler Homes (ITH): Tell us about yourself.

Jaime Hayon (JH): Well, I’m Spanish; I was born in Madrid in 1974 and was raised there. Later, I studied design in both Madrid and Paris, and after that, I went to Italy and established my first company. That was when I became more of an artist than a designer. I was working with galleries a lot, specialising in ceramics and sculptures, and I was the head of the Research Design department at Fabrica.  

ITH: How has your career evolved to date?

JH: During my seven years in Italy, I worked with many galleries and held many exhibitions. The first time that my design work was editedwas with BD Barcelona Design. They asked me to develop something new that could be produced in a series. When I met the company, I was really more of an artist. So it was the first time that a company had edited my design work. In the meantime, I continued to work as an artist, and right now I have two exhibitions in the Netherlands and Israel. After that, these exhibitions will go to Paris. I also still work for galleries as well as design companies such as Fritz Hansen, Cassina, Magis and more. In general my work is balanced between art and design, and creating interiors and installations.

ITH: Which do you prefer being called: artist or a designer?

JH: It doesn’t matter. What matters is the vision itself. At any given moment, you could be called an artist designer or a designer artist. Whatever. We tend to categorise everything needlessly. Historically, there was Le Corbusier, who was an architect, but who was also an artist, sculptor, painter, and even furniture designer. Leonardo da Vinci was a painter, sculptor, technician and engineer.

The good thing about living and working right now is that we can break free of categorisation. So to me, I’m an art creator; somebody with ideas. And the ideas can manifest themselves in products, interiors and beautiful art installations. But there can be a lot of debate around this.

ITH: What do you mean when you say “debate”?

JH: Right now, museums showcase my work and some people say it should in a certain place at a certain time. There is a lot of debate about this in general. If you look back to the 1970s, there were no museums that curated photographic works. They didn’t exist because everyone had a camera with only a few basic settings. But at some point, it became normal and acceptable to display  photographic work. So the debate about what is art and what is design—as well as what belongs where—rages on.

ITH: What do you think it is about your design that makes people relate to it?

JH: I just think there is a sense of quality coupled with the use of detailed materials. Everything I do is built to last, too, which makes it ecologically sound. Because it is long-lasting, it can be passed from generation to generation. And it has to be functional and tell you something.

ITH: You have collaborated a lot with brands. What do you think are the most important aspects of these partnerships?

JH: I think the most important thing is to work with someone you like. A lot of companies will call you just because you’re famous, but it doesn’t mean that they are someone you like. They want you as a person because of your reputation. I’m not that type. I will sit down with the client, and if there is no chemistry, I’m the first one to go out of the door.

ITH: Has it always been your dream to be a designer?

JH: No. It’s more complicated than something you can dream of. But I knew that I wanted to be something different. I knew that I wasn’t going to be a banker or work on something that uses numbers and mathematics. I wanted to do something creative. But to be honest, I ended up being designer because of the consequences of my life, the direction my studying took me in, and and all the people I met. In fact, it was the people I met who really gave me the opportunity to do what I do.

ITH: How about your collaboration with Fritz Hansen?

JH: It started with the need to design and develop a new sofa. The company considered many different designers, and I was last on the list. And in fact, after I did my first sketch, they thought that it really wasn’t right for them. But over time, they thought there was something in it that was actually very “Fritz Hansen”. It is more than a sofa; it is linked with the history of the brand. That is how the project started. After we launched it, the market really accepted it.

ITH: What’s the best thing about being a designer?

Being a designer is an interesting business because it is not really a business as such. You not be thinking about the actual “business” part for most of the time. Some designers might do that, but it’s not in my way. My personal work is to explore the border between art and design; exploring materials and multiculturalism.

ITH: If you could take us inside your mind, what are your creative processes?

JH: That’s a tough question to answer, because my creativity comes from many sources. But, in general, I’m an observer: I observe many things. Maybe 90 per cent of the people I know don’t really observe anything. For example, when I went to Paris last time, we visited the Mona Lisa. I believe that if I had asked everyone there at that time about this painting, they wouldn’t really be able to say anything about the beauty behind the painting. You know why? Because they didn’t seen it with their eyes. They saw it through their camera phone, which is such a shame. Your memory will remember so many more things.

For me, when I think about an idea I tend to become more observant. Something really stupid might become the next big thing; something that is irrelevant may be the beginning of something that’s really interesting. For me, when you mix all the ingredients together, the result is something different. It’s as simple as that. Ideas are everywhere; it all depends on how you cook them up. That’s the simplest way to explain it. If you really got into my head, you would get a headache!

ITH: Can you tell us about your current projects?

JH: I am continuing to working with Fritz Hansen, which is very important to me. I am also currently working on a few projects in India, Madrid and Paris, plus some restaurants, a hotel, a private house in Kuwait, and one in New York. I’m actually working on 40 different things at the same time right now.

ITH: What do you usually do when you’re not working?

JH: I like to drink wine, plant trees and do gardening when I have the time. I also travel to see what I haven’t seen and spend time with my kids and family. I also like cycling as well as vintage cars. I use technology to communicate with my office mostly, so I don’t have to go in all the time.

ITH: What is your biggest achievement?

JH: My biggest achievement is to still be human, to still have my feet on the ground, and to still have a lot of good friends and a great family. My biggest achievement that is I don’t stop to celebrate my success. To still be who I am.

ITH: Can you imagine yourself not being an artist or designer?

JH: I could be many other things, but most likely still in the creative industries.