Jaime Hayon is known for his distinctive work that blends fine craftsmanship with experimentation and a captivating sense of fantasy. More than 10 years of Hayon’s work has been on display at the Design Museum Holon in Israel and the retrospective exhibition, fittingly titled Funtastico, vividly demonstrates Hayon’s eccentric creativity.
Funtastico focuses on Hayon’s experimental work, rather than his high-end furniture and lighting designs, and reveals the surreal and eclectic world Hayon seeks to create. “I am a pure creator: I think of ideas, put them on paper, then try to realise them,” Hayon explains. “I don’t think much about whether it will fit in architecture, art, or design world.”
The installations date back to Hayon’s Mediterranean Digital Baroque, which heralded his entry into the art world in 2003. A ceramic forest of cactuses and animals are set against a backdrop bursting with the designer’s signature-style graphics in what is a manifesto about Hayon’s personal cosmogony and a narrative of struggle, love and salvation. Like much of his work, it also demonstrates the influence of street culture and the freedom he found in skateboarding, punk rock and graffiti as a youth.
Hayon has reinterpreted this combination of functional pieces with paintings, graphics and sculptural elements many times over the years, including fr his 2009 installation The Tournament in Trafalgar Square. His gigantic chess set comprises a Bisazza mosaic-glass chessboard and two-metre-high ceramic chess pieces hand painted with references to iconic London buildings.
Hayon is renowned for injecting his sculptural forms with a good dose of humour, and his iconic Green Chicken rocking chair is one piece that Hayon identifies as a true representation of his soul. “The chicken, a rather unexplored shape, found its place amongst my green dreams,” says Hayon. “I wanted to portray this common bird as a sensational object by amplifying its characteristics and dimensions, turning it into a modern piece, one of great beauty and utility: a rocking chair.”
The retrospective exhibition also featured Hayon’s Mon Cirque, which symbolises his desire to transcend the frontier between art and design. In black, white and gold, Hayon’s surreal dream world appears sophisticated and ambient, but a closer look reveals how fantasy and expectation collide: vases transform into creatures, tables grow legs and clowns glow with light.
Like Hayon’s commercial work, the exhibits are underpinned by the artisan’s attention to craftsmanship, which has seen him design furniture and lighting for Expormim, Parachilna and Bernhardt Design, amongst many other brands. But beyond the sophistication and elegance Hayon brings to this work he never misplaces his enthusiasm for experimentation – or his sense of humour. “At the beginning, nobody knew what I was doing, and now they do, and want to work with me, jump from the bridge with me,” Hayon laughs. “This is a change, because it used to be very hard for people to jump. It took a lot more persuasion.”