By Laura Goldstein
If Jaime Hayon’s day job doesn’t work out, he can always be a stand-up comedian. The charismatic Spanish artist and designer whose international accolades include Time Magazine and Wallpaper naming him in their 100 most relevant and influential creators of our times, is sitting in his Arpa Armchair in the SwitzerCultCreative booth at 2017 IDS-Vancouver. He’s a headline speaker here at the Pacific Northwest’s largest interior design show. As sponsors of his presentation, SwitzerCultCreative feted Hayon at a celebratory dinner the evening before. “Jaime is so down-to-earth and fascinating to speak with and never seems to be affected by jet lag,” laughs Adam Bellas, SwitzerCultCreative partner. “I finally had to call it quits at 2:30 a.m. and look at him- he’s fresh as a daisy this morning!”
Born in Madrid but now based in Valencia, the man with the fantastical imagination has a prolific output of collaborations: Stone Age Folk furniture and lighting in kaleidoscopic colours for Israeli company, Caesarstone; porcelain for Spanish brand Lladro; fruity crystal objects for Baccarat; Afghani and Japanese folklore-inspired tapestries and rugs for Nanimarquina; interiors for Hotel Barcelo Torre in Madrid; designs for Camper shoe brand and most recently- as fashion apparel designer for his new company, Jijibaba in London.
Does he ever sleep?
“I feel like I’m a little boy telling stories,” Hayon says to a rapt IDS-Vancouver audience of 300 that he holds in the palm of his hand through humorous anecdotes, PowerPoint presentation and the sheer speed at which his mind works. “I only try to work on things that I love and they must not be too serious. I have a third eye when I see something and I’m really influenced by something old – like folk tales- then give it a modern twist.”
That is certainly apparent in his Sé Collection II in the IDS booth and in his larger inventory of furniture in the SwitzerCultCreative showroom. Hayon’s Arpa Chair was inspired by musical instruments, specifically the harp and its legs from researching those of insects. Ancient drums and bongos are referenced in Hayon’s sculptured cylindrical side tables, Bala Lo in pastel colours and Bala Metal in a burnished copper wrap. The Tambor Table is a stunning space-defining coffee table with Carrara marble top and pastel green lacquered steel base.
“I know it’s not always easy convincing clients but it’s best to pursue quality rather than trying to please the masses.”
“I transform spaces into experiences,” Hayon continues. A statement particularly relevant for his many international outdoor installations. Like Hayon’s colourfully patterned menagerie of quirky creatures at the recent exhibition at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta or a 10-foot high chess set in London’s Trafalgar Square that completely changed the landscape. “Kids of course were attracted to them immediately and adults were very hesitant but after a while even they started climbing, sliding and riding on them,” Hayon laughs.
I ask Hayon, 43 and the father of two little boys, if he’s designed their toys and bedroom furniture (they must be the envy of all their friends.) “Oh absolutely. I designed a huge rope web over their beds with a gigantic elephant head inside.” They just love it!”