Discussion in the plenum
Fabian Peters: How did the job description read that Fritz Hansen approached you with?
Jaime Hayon: My armchairs and sofas for Fritz Hansen to date, for example “Fri” and “Ro,” are now also used in many offices, including the Google offices in London and the Apple Campus in Silicon Valley. That’s why Fritz Hansen asked me to create a piece of seating furniture that could be combined with my other designs and spoke the same formal language.
What was your approach?
Jaime Hayon: I had to think about the concept for a long time. All of the pieces of upholstered furniture I had designed for Fritz Hansen thus far are characterized by their curved shape. But a sofa like the one the company now wanted me to design required a straight back. The challenge lay in reconciling both of these factors. I made tons of drawings before arriving at the final shape.
Which considerations influenced your work on the design?
Jaime Hayon: It was important to me for psychological reasons that the two side sections of “Plenum” should diverge slightly. That way it appears to be welcoming users with open arms. Yet despite this the side segments still offer enough privacy. Every piece of seating furniture I design is created to convey the message “I want to serve you, I offer you comfort.” An entirely untechnical approach, which designers often forget, however. I’m an artist as well as a designer, which is why I generally tend to see things a little more fluidly, more brightly – and that makes them more human.
Can you explain to me how the item of furniture is constructed?
Jaime Hayon: The base frame is a construction made of wood and polyurethane with metal inserts for bracing. It is incidentally quite striking how filigree “Plenum” is once you take out the several layers of padding that make it so comfortable. Then it only consists of the base frame, the two sides and one, two or three extremely flat back elements.
Thus far, “Plenum” only exists as a one, two or three seater. Will the collection be expanded?
Jaime Hayon: Definitely. Even as I was designing the series I could clearly see further additions in my mind’s eye. Because in principle, “Plenum” is a modular system. It is actually possible to realize the sofa in all kinds of lengths. There should also be a table and a chair in the range. It could, for example, be considered whether the sofa elements would also work as dividers for a table. And who knows what that might in turn lead to?