MEET: Jaime Hayon

Not many designers can claim to have an identifiable signature across their entire oeuvre of creations, but 40-year-old Spanish designer Jaime Hayon is one of those who can. From furniture to ceramics, washbasins, lamps, and now even a watch (the Orolog), Hayon’s touch is evident in the softly rounded forms, and playful but often rich details of his work. His Pina chair has been such a success for Magis, this year the company launched a family of products, including a low chair, table, and rocking chair. Hayon tells us why the Pina’s design (based on a pineapple) was so technically difficult, it might have never been produced at all.

I was looking at your body of work and I realise there are no right angles. Is that feature intentional?
Well, it is intentional. I’ve always said that the body is rounded so objects related to the human being should be rounded. I never truly believed in edges, I think they are aggressive – they hurt you when you go around. The shadows and the object become lighter when they’re rounded, and I like that.
These pieces in general, it’s nice to go around them. If you make them square, it’s almost like they are telling you, put them in a corner, near the wall. It comes naturally to me to design things like this.

Which word do people use the most in describing your work?
Well, a lot of people say the quality is always there. There is always a lot of quality in material, the materiality. And a lot of people like the humour of certain pieces; quality plus humour, that’s interesting. Well they’ve said so many things, I don’t know (laughs). A lot of people recognise the pieces no matter what, if it’s a chair or whatever. So I’m glad about that because the style is present.

When I look at your pieces, I always feel that the designer is having fun, there’s a irreverence to them.
Oh, I do have fun working. I always have a very (how do I say) philosophical way of working. I was never sort of accepting. Other people accept things. But I’m not like that, I like things that are different. When you work on projects which are exciting, you always have fun with it. I choose the projects and I treat them the way I want. And this is the philosophy; you work with the people you love, you do the things you really like, and you don’t force yourself to design. That makes good work.
You have fun, and you have respect, and you have a good moment. If you have a good moment, you have fun, right? You have good people around you, you have good conversation, you have good wine – a good moment. I work with Magis because I like them and they like me, and we have a good time together, and we can come up with pieces that people are happy with. It’s all about good chemistry.

Which materials give you the most joy in working with?
None of them. I discover materials and I work with them. This was new to me (gestures to the Pina), to work with metal. And I liked it. I’m not someone who will focus on a material.
A project can start with a technique, it can start with a challenge. ‘Oh this material is very strange, let’s work with it.’ We find a new way, there are a lot of ways.

You love to draw.
I draw a lot, that’s my tool.

For the Pina, you drew a pineapple.
Well, that’s how everything started. I looked at a pineapple and it looked very grid-dy, and it had this inflated form. And I said, oh…. And I sent the drawing to Eugenio Perazza (of Magis), and I said let’s make the wire like a pineapple, and he was like ‘it’s pretty weird’. But there you go, now we have a collection. But it’s fun, really fun, to see their reaction, you know. Very fun (laughs).

Was this hard to achieve technically?
It’s very complex, technically. All the welding. Like in this chair, the whole system (He walks to the Low chair and turns it upside down to show the construction) is as complex underneath. Because of all the wires you have to fuse together. This gives the strength as well. You have all these different tools welded in different ways to put it together. That’s what Magis is good at, you know. Technologically it’s very complex, it’s not so easy to achieve. There’s a lot of discussion and fine-tuning.

You’re also in tune with crafts, with the things you do for ceramic brand Bosa. Where do you stand on the spectrum between crafts and technology?
This is the new Jaime, kind of in-between technology and craft, and art and design, and between things all the time. I like that. I find sophistication lies at the borderlines of each discipline.
There’s not one that counts more than the other. They give you different things. What I’m interested in are things in the middle, and designs become strong or weak depending on where they fall. Sometimes you arrive at a moment and think “This is going to be terrible, and then it turns out to be amazing (laughs) because you take a risk. And sometimes you are sure it’s going to be amazing, and it’s crap. With the Pina, it was terribly expensive at the beginning. There’s no machine that can weld 300 points at the same time. We had a problem, how do we make it?
That chair (points to another chair) is welded normally, and it already has 20 points. This one has 300 points. So count them – every time there is a weld it’s 20 euros, 20 euros, 20 euros. At the end, the chair is going to cost a lot of money. Well, they found a way that would cost nothing – they found a robot that was making this for another industry. Well, the problem brought about innovation. Today it’s available, at a good price, it’s successful that’s why they made the collection bigger, it’s good.

What was added this year?
We made it wider, as we wanted it to have more comfort. We created the footrest, because people who saw it last year said ‘Oh it’s comfortable, where’s the foot rest?’(laughs) The foot rest is made the same way, the same welding system.
After that we thought, why not make it a rocking chair? The collection grew to be the outdoor version, the indoor version, the rocking chair, the foot stool, and the tables. And from there, I have no idea. The first time I designed it, there was a little sofa as well, and I think the machine was not able to make that. It’s super crazy.

Do you think Magis might be the only company who can pull this off?
They’re one of the best to do this. It’s so complicated. They’re very intelligent in the process of finding the link to technology. Perazza and the Magis team, they have no problem finding a machine or a strange thing to solve the problem.

Are you working on anything else with them?
We always have four, five projects going on. There are a few things in the pipeline that are very strange (laughs) with them. There is some invention going on.

Your work has also been described as being very childlike.
Well, sometimes. That’s also because of the use of colour.

How do you stay a “child”?
Well, by having children. I’ve got a few, so. I’m always spending time with the children and it’s also has to do with being very basic, with the liking of colours. I’m also a very playful guy you know, if you come with me one night for a drink, you’ll have a good time. Because I’m always having fun and enjoying the moment.

Have you thought about designing things for children?
Yes, of course, and I did some things already. But just for my children (laughs), so maybe in the future.

Pina Low Chair

Pina Rocking Chair

Pina Low Table

The Orolog watch by Hayon

Magis is sold at Xtra Designs.

Read about what we saw at this year's Salone del Mobile Milano:
Milan Furniture Fair Report #1 — Our Picks From Brands We Love
Milan Furniture Fair Report #2 — The Best From Young Designers
Milan Furniture Fair Report #3 — Quirky & Unconventional Designs
MEET: Anderssen & Voll

Read about what we saw at this year's Milan Design Week:
MEET: Marcel Wanders of Moooi