And now, for the Grande Finale.
Sitting over on my table here was one of the last things I had to go through. It was an envelope saying "A Century of Chairs" and very simply "barcelona design" at the top. I had no idea what it was. Finally I popped the CD in and took a look. At first, I was kind of like "eh, this is okay, but it's a little...weird."
But then I kept looking...and looking...and sinking deeper and deeper into this universe, and it suddenly dawned on me that I was looking at some of the most brilliant work I'd ever seen. Not for a very, very long time have I been so overwhelmed with respect for a single designer. I'm agog. His name is Jaime Hayon.
What. Shut up, he's dressed for dinner at Björk and Matthew Barney's house.
I should warn you, I tried to narrow this post down as much as I could, but it will still be a big one. There's just too much to see and making matters worse, his publicity photographs are absolutely gorgeous, in and of themselves.
This will be another one of my goofy analogies, but it's almost like an alien from another planet with a bad memory was sent to study earth, but accidentally arrived in the 1930s, and then was asked when he got home to try and remember what earth people's houses looked like inside to recreate them for the Alien Planet Museum of Art. And coming from me, that is a very high compliment.
I'll go into the individual pieces, but to understand why I say that, you really need to see all of them together. Individually, each piece is remarkably distinctive, a little bit Baroque, vaguely familiar but a little bit...off somehow, and profoundly interesting. But together, they just create the most bizarre universe, and this, ladies and germs, is the Future of Furniture Design. Click these:
The line is called "Showtime" and Hayon was actually inspired by films from the 1930s. So a lot of the cues are coming from that period. But he's got every decade from the '40s though to the '80s in there as well--there's even a little Eames--so seamlessly fused together into one crazy new aesthetic.
Here are some closer shots of the sideboard and table in blue:
And by the way? That deep, rich cobalt blue could make sweet love to my eyeballs all day and all night.
Here's the armchair with a canopy, which I'm fairly certain can be attached and detached at will:
And the loveseat:
I have to show you the glamour shot, too, because the photography is amazing:
And a close-up studio shot of the vases:
When you see a grouping like that it becomes obvious this guy has the most impeccable sense of color. None of the colors are all that unusual, but the combination of them is extraordinarily suave.
But you see what he's doing here--he's so adeptly walking all these extremely fine lines like a tightrope. It's just campy enough to be fun, but without ever being gimmicky. It's so very rich in cues from the history of design, but without ever being clichéed. And there are all these elements that seem strangely familiar, but he's combined them together in a way that becomes almost Surreal. It's completely blowing my mind.
And there's more!
He did a small number of pieces for Bisazza, who I've written about before, truly at the very top of their game in the art of mosaics. Here's the mirror, table, and vases--click this:
Moving on. Here's Hayon's bath line, "Artquitect," click this:
I think some of this gets a little bit too delicate for my taste, but there's still some incredible things happening. Namely the sink:
Don't ask me why the shocking yellow isn't bothering me; it just...works. He also did this in shiny metallic gold, which is so rich and beautiful. But what's really getting me is the integrated mirror, which is like this isolated Art Nouveau sort of detail, and evidently it can also be a lamp. Here it is in black:
The legs have a vaguely Art Nouveau sensibility to them, also, but it's so subtle and anything but derivative.
Speaking of lamps, here's "Josephine" in silver:
That gun-metally grey is delicious. It also comes in gold, which you can see here in the sconce version:
It's sort of like Sears Catalogue circa 1973 on crack. Out of control.
And here's "Bubbles" in white:
I actually think that'd be great in a bathroom, like a bubble bath. In copper it's just completely from another world:
And here's a glass candle holder shaped like an old oil lamp:
I'm fairly certain I don't have to tell you how unbelievably clever I think that is--especially since it's in the shape of an object that's supposed to give off light, but then it's black, which is the polar opposite of lightness? No, didn't think so.
Here's the horse vase you may have noticed in the bathroom up above, in black:
Okay, so it's a vase...but it's a vase that hangs on the wall, which is already a little unusual. And then it looks like something taxidermied, but it's a horse...people don't hunt horses and put them on their wall like a trophy, do they? I think that would be weird. And then the flowers come out of the center of the horse's head, like a unicorn's horn? It's just fascinating and beautiful, anyway.
But that's nothing compared to this. Hayon is also art director for Lladró. Remember I posted about them? I should have known they had some insane genius at the helm. Here's his "Conversation Vase 1B" for Lladró, click this:
Did I just have an acid flashback?
On the vase part, it's maybe a clown with hearts on his face? wearing some kind of strange cartoon bunny costume. Then on the top of the vase is a jester holding a staff with a heart at the top, wearing a Michelin Man shirt and a bunny helmet with a huge arrow through it and a bird on one of the ears.
Who comes up with something like this? "Conversation" is right. Your house-guests could probably spend the majority of the evening just trying to figure out what this is supposed to be. And I have a sneaking suspicion that was the whole point.
And I'm still not done. I've asked if Jaime would be willing to do an interview with me, also. His representative said it wouldn't be possible until after August, but stay tuned. I definitely need to get into this guy's head if he consents to answering some questions for me.
©2008, Ryan Witte