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Spanish designer Jaime Hayon takes ceramics to creative extremes with spectacular aplomb

Jaime Hayon is the latest proponent of design's new feel-good factor, creating artistic hybrids honed on human appeal.

The best way to describe Spanish designer Jaime Hayon is like Willy Wonka in his chocolate factory. With his cropped, turned-up trousers and slightly clownish shoes, with boundless energy, he jumps around his surrealistic mise-en-scene created for Bisazza at this year's Milan Furniture Fair with indefatigable zeal. Centered around a colossal Pinocchio figure clad in mosaics, Hayon's magnificent setting resembles a Disneyland for the discerning design buff.

His tone is jovial and familiar, his accent heavy with traces of Spanish—he originally hails from Madrid—mixed with an American lilt, acquired from his high school days spent in San Diego. It was there that he got his first taste for design, working for a skateboard company. However, it was in 2005 that Hayon's big break came, in the form of the AQ Hayon bathroom collection for Spanish bathroom manufacturer ArtQuitect. Riding the crest of the baroque wave and shunning the stark, white linearity served up en masse, Hayon brought a bold new beauty to the bathroom. Washbasins finely crafted as vanity units, complete with integrated lamps and baths with ancillary hand mirrors not only highlighted the humor of the young designer, but also exposed an immense creative talent.

He is one of the brave new breed championing the cause for artisanal design. "It's funny, but my career has been crazy over the last four years. Yet everything I have made over those four years, I've made with such passion and energy that at the end of the day, no company could have told me to stop doing it. If it was difficult for them, if they never believed in it, then I came with the piece already made. I almost went bankrupt five times!" he recalls. His main area of expertise lies in ceramics. He imbues the time-honored craft with a youthful quality, bringing new life to a once-stagnating sector. Last year, the Valencian porcelain art manufacturer Lladro recruited the 35-year-old to breathe new life into the 50-year-old company's image, which had long been deemed outside the domain of fashionability. Reinterpreting the traditional themes of the beloved baubles in his inimitable, offbeat style, he has restored collectibles to the realm of cool.

This year, Hayon joined Italian mosaic manufacturer Bisazza's illustrious dream team of design luminaries as he presented Hayon Pixel Ballet as part of Bisazza Home's arresting installation. "They first contacted me about the project in January. I wrote from Paris and said, 'Listen, I really want to do this thing,' and Rossella [Bisazza] said, 'Well, if you want to do that, I think it's going to look cool.' We started the project at the end of February, it was a lot of work. They really have the courage to go for something and to believe in the idea," says Hayon. Following the choreographic plans of dancers, he has mapped out a veritable ensemble of both sculptural and functional objects, each exemplifying the dynamism of the avant-garde ceramicist, in confluence with the versatility and modernity of the ancient craft of mosaic work. "This sort of movement, when you look from up high, every movement creates a harmony together – that's what I wanted to do here. Each piece has a mosaic in one way or another, so at the end of the day, you have a whole composition – the big art piece, the functional items for the house, the combination of materials; everything becomes harmonious."

Expanding his limitless talent, Hayon is on the move – and not just to London, where he recently relocated. "I'm moving into interiors," he announces. By the end of the year, we will be able to eat and sleep in Hayon's whimsical world. "I'm working on a restaurant and hotel. It's too early to talk about it. There's a lot of construction, lots of concepts... It's going to be really spectacular. All the rooms are going to be completely different. I've got such crazy dreams for them," he admits. We wouldn't expect anything less.



Jaime Hayon's definition of luxury:
To be on a beach, naked, in a lost place.

If luxury were a place
The beach.

A person
Our mothers when we're born – that's really luxury, nice and warm.

A moment
That moment when you put your nose in a glass of wine – if you love wine, it's fantastic.

An object
For me, it would be a really nice Dupont lighter, to me it's such a beautiful object.

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