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Stories of the harlequin and his colorful, child-like dream world
by Sandra Hofmeister | 1/13/2009
All photos © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark

Gilt-edged book definitely want to attract attention and show off their great value. Often, they are special prayer books or editions of the Bible. The leather-bound Karl May edition in my uncle's living room cabinet had edges that glittered in gold, and now Jaime Hayon's new monograph is doing the same. Quite boldly presenting the marvelous opulence of this book form may not necessarily fit current developments. Yet the Spanish designer's book came out during the golden age before the financial crisis. And as a gesture, the gilt edging definitely fits Hayon: The creative clown from Barcelona develops his ideas without any fear of the outcome not being tasteful or kitsch. Exaggeration, the fairy-tale-like and an opulent Baroque glut of colors and shapes are his companions along the way, his sketchbook is a kind of Bible that contains a view of the world that drifts into the bounds of fantasy and describes a child's amazement from the viewpoint of a harlequin. Hayon's colorful picturebook presents the designer-cum-artist's full cosmos through countless drawings, photos and collages. The monograph offers excerpts from his marvelous sketchbooks, describes projects and tells stories about prototypes, finished products and ideas - none of which were meant for mass production. Jaime Hayon's opinions, his humor and his works may not be everybody's cup of tea. But the Spaniard's fairytale world is certainly coherent - his stance on the world and design can evidently draw on an enormous wealth o0f creative ideas, and in the process constantly regenerate itself.

And the artist certainly is not bothered whether it is sense or nonsense.

His designs are spontaneous and intuitive, Hayon says in an introductory interview with Suzanne Wales. He does not think long and hard but instead allows his ideas free rein. Instead of a biography, the colorful set of pictures in the gilt-edged book offers highly personal aspects of Hayon's life, captured as snapshots: Small-boy Jaime dressed up as a cowboy on a pony - evidently he was a master of disguise even then! Later, a fairly daring skater and finally a sensitive artist who draws his inspiration from experiences on holiday with friends. For his first exhibition, in 2003 in the David Gill Gallery in London, Hayon devised a landscape made up of out-sized ceramic cacti. What nonsense the critics may think. But Jaime Hayon is not interested in what is sense and what nonsense. Probably, he is thrilled precisely by the nonsensical, frivolous and superfluous details. The sensible and merely functional does not seem to meet his yardstick. The table of his Mon Cirque installation features a dozen legs, turned and curved, with a high-gloss white lacquer finish. On it stand enigmatic ceramic shapes, a kind of abstract cabinet of figures or dolls, with golden ornamentation, noses or beaks. It may be surprising that this installation traveled from Barcelona to Paris, Cologne and Kuala Lumpur, but it is quite plausible: Jaime Hayon's Baroque surfeit marked a stroke of real liberation for the design world, freeing it from its perpetual chaining to ubiquitous utility and seriousness. Many of Hayon's designs have gone into mass production and some of them, for example the amusing table lamps shaped like mushrooms, are definitely also practical everyday items. Yet the really big designs the Spaniard has conjured up prove him to be more an artist than a designer: His monstrous green rocking chicken remained a one-off. Specially made, not for sale and never to decay. In particular if Jaime Hayon himself sits on, enjoying a swing in his harlequin costume.

Jaime Hayon Works
By Jaime Hayon, in English, Gestalten Verlag 2008, linen hardcover, 320 pages, € 69,90

www.gestalten.com

All photos © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark
Jaime Hayon: what is the best moment of the day?