Do you still have a bathroom or are you already at home?
Mar 25, 2011
Jaime Hayon, Photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark

As usual, a large number of the big players in the sanitation industry showcased their new products at this year's ISH. Wherever you look, you see one bathroom after another; tubs, basins, toilets, not to forget the fitting fittings. Water purls and bubbles, in streams of different strengths. Only on closer inspection do you notice the differences between the various innovations. Here, something is especially well worked, there a new, patented technology improves handling. Yet many of the products seem interchangeable.

On the sidelines in Hall 3 there is a small booth which is not defined by the white of ceramic and where everything else seems to somehow be somewhat different. Given the bathroom cupboards there you could be forgiven thinking that this is all about a living room. In fact, what is on show here seems fit for living areas. Perhaps this is what is meant by the repeated call for bathrooms to please be a bit more homely. What is certain is that here Italian mosaic maker Bisazza is presenting its first bath collection, designed by Jaime Hayon. Nina Reetzke talked to the Spanish designer about bathrooms, elegance and Art Deco.

Nina Reetzke: Señor Hayon, how did "Bisazza Bagno" come about?

Jaime Hayon: Bisazza took the far-reaching decision to found a "Bathroom" department. Because in the final instance mosaics, and Bisazza is renowned for them, are used in wet rooms, meaning in bathrooms, in hotel spas, and so forth. Signore Bisazza approached me some time ago. He liked the bath collection I originally designed for ArtQuitect and which has now come out in a revised version under the "Bisazza Bagno" brand. ArtQuitect is a small manufacturer without deep resources and we were therefore not able to make big waves. When Signore Bisazza asked me whether I would like to design a bath collection for him I answered: "Yes, sounds interesting. But why not let me simply advance the things that I have been concerning myself with anyway." After the original product line was bought up, there was more consistency in the collection. It became better, more industrial, and new products were added. We thought about the bathroom as a whole, we wanted to make something special, something glamorous, something unlike the typical sanitation products, as these so often seem clinical and technical. Just take a look round!

How exactly have you advanced your bathroom collection recent years?

Hayon: Bisazza focuses on design and I have collaborated with them for three and one half years now. They leave me a lot of scope for experimentation. And you can see that in the product catalog, which contains some sketches from the development sessions. They give you an idea of the many drawings of bathrooms I have made down through the years. The sketches in the catalog are 1-2 years old. I wanted to design a collection that had not only a feminine, but also a masculine feel.

What do you mean by ‘masculine'?

Hayon: The collection conveys a ‘strong' impression, thanks to the use of black. Sometimes a bathroom needs that ‘fin noir'. Then there's the marble. The stone gives the collection a powerful, stable and precise feel. I particularly like the copper base frames, which were made specially for us.

Are the wooden accessories part of the new products?

Hayon: The collection contains many new items. The cupboards are now closed, there are shelf systems and showers, and I think the latter are a real success. Many people are interested in them because they seem so ‘super simple'. They possess a certain minimalist elegance. Yet I am no minimalist designer. There's always room for a little expression. Take the washbasin, for example. The facets on the edge show its volume and allow for the interplay of light and shadow.

For many years now there has been debate on linking bathrooms and living rooms. Is it meaningful to keep talking about this?

Hayon: I would not exaggerate if I said that on this issue we've come a long way. People were shocked when a few years ago we presented the first bathroom designs in Milan. On the one hand it is now possible to showcase "Bisazza Bagno" as something new, but parts of it are quite a few years old. Back then, the special side to these things was the talk of the town. It was the first product I took to market. It made me known. Today, some of my designs have gone into production. We worked very hard. So it is all the more shocking if people simply will not ‘wake up'! They still seem to think the bathroom is a place that should be hidden from view. I believe the bathroom should be a place that you can be proud to show to others.

In many apartments there's only a small room for the bath. In cities, real estate is expensive and the older buildings hardly envisaged space for bathrooms. To what extent did you factor these realities into your considerations?

Hayon: For our bath collection you don't need a big bathroom. There are also small products. Some models can even be ‘halved'. And some combinations provide a lot of storage space and have an essentially restrained formal look to them.

Do you have a standalone tub in your bathroom?

Hayon: Yes, I have a beautiful standalone tub in my bathroom, not dissimilar to the tub in our Bisazza Bagno collection, just a bit more crazy. It's a prototype. I have a lot of prototypes, I live among prototypes, they're all over the place.

Do you think the collection is timeless or do you prefer to move with the zeitgeist?

Hayon: I consider the designs timeless. People look at the products as if they were made yesterday, when in fact some date back to 2003. Which is, after all, eight years ago.

What does elegance mean to you?

Hayon: Refinement. Modern, contemporary design tends not to be elegant. By contrast, everything I design has a certain elegance. You can see that someone has thought about it and that the products are executed well. You could, for example, simply use untreated marble. But for our products, the surface is polished because this makes it easier to clean them. In fact the reverse is treated, although it faces the wall. I mean, this is all about details. I love details.

Occasionally people compare "Bisazza Bagno" and Art Deco. Were you inspired by Art Deco or is the comparison wrong?

Hayon: In Art Deco's age, what counted was quality. Materials were combined and the products exuded a certain glamour. That's rare today. Wherever you look, you only see rectangular shells serving this or that function. I don't think like that. I like things that endure. In the 1930s, people still appreciated elegance. It was a special kind of glamour. The idea was not to attract a lot of attention, not to be immoderate, not to be Baroque. But to be refined, a simplicity that treads a thin line. That heeded many details. Being elegant is a challenge. If you input too much, it is too much, if you do too little, it is too little. The idea is also not to express yourself. You need to feel your way in cautiously. Look at the drawings in the catalogue, for example this one (points to one). It's all exaggerated, too many details. At that point, many questions were still unanswered. Here, some of the mistakes have been corrected (points to another drawing). Today I can say that we took all the right decisions and struck a good balance. You can see that I designed the products and that they have a certain inherent refinement. Getting there is a rough road and takes time. I like working that way. It's what goes to make up the work of a designer. I live, I experiment, and I like achieving what I dreamed of.

Jaime Hayon, Photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark
Jaime Hayon, Photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark
The Hayon Collection by Jaime Hayon for Bisazza, Photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark
The Hayon Collection by Jaime Hayon for Bisazza, Photo © Alejandro Mosquera, Stylepark
The Hayon Collection by Jaime Hayon for Bisazza, Photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark
The Hayon Collection by Jaime Hayon for Bisazza, Photo © Alejandro Mosquera, Stylepark
The Hayon Collection by Jaime Hayon for Bisazza, Photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark
The Hayon Collection by Jaime Hayon for Bisazza, Photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark