Monday, November 9, 2009

"What was sundered and undone..."

In my ongoing fascination with Spanish designer, Jaime Hayon, I was pleased to discover he's created a line of crystal pieces for Baccarat. Much like Swarovski, a name that's practically impossible to stop hearing these days--or perhaps because of them--Baccarat is also doing some really innovative, conceptual, and wholly contemporary work. Hence, their choice of Hayon for these exclusive pieces. They're limited to editions of twenty-five pieces each, and range in price from around $7000 to $25,000. Evidently they were very difficult to make because Hayon was doing somewhat experimental things, and it's often hard to know how the crystal will react--and because Baccarat has such stringently high quality standards.

There was really only one I didn't like, I thought it was a bit too much, a bit too messy and unfocused. Oddly enough, my second least favorite is the one that's already sold out, Jelly Copper:

Clear crystal and copper ceramic. Click images for larger.
Likely it went first because it's the smallest and therefore I'd imagine the least expensive of the bunch. Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful, but just a little squat and not as dramatic as some of the others. It looks a little too much like a dressed-up Citronella candle, to be honest.

Probably the most traditional of them all, outside perhaps the delicious color of the top, is this one:

Blackberry Freeze, clear and amethyst crystal
For the most part, I think this could easily have been made as long ago as maybe the 1940s, but it still has a wonderful use of texture.

Slightly more obviously contemporary, paired with a sense of the classical, is this one:

PiƱa Passion Vase, clear crystal and white copper ceramic
The copper is on the inside of the bottom section. Sitting in a stream of bright sunlight (etc.), this would give off the most magical kind of coppery toned reflections that would likely bleed up into the clear crystal above.

Something similar happens in this one, and now I think we're starting to get into the seriously contemporary pieces:

Lucky Green, green crystal and copper ceramic

I start really falling in love when I get to these two:
Red Passion Golf, clear and red crystal
Noticing that it looks like a golf ball and just coming right out and saying so is truly brilliant.
After Nine, clear, amethyst, and olive green crystal
I also love how this looks a little bit like a glass of red wine, but then...not really, either. Both of these pieces are fantastic. There's no way you could look at them and not be immediately aware these are the most valuable pieces of the highest quality crystal. There's again the sense of the classical stylistic tradition of this company that's about to celebrate a quarter-millennium in the business. Lastly, they are without any question a product of our times and beyond, and yet, in such a simple and subtle way. They aren't screaming Modernity at you, or Deconstructivism or even Postmodernism. But the refined combinations of different, strangely familiar, and almost incongruous formal moments produce something truly new.

The cutest and funniest one in the group is definitely this one:
Harcourt Lolly, clear crystal
I adore this so very much. I think there is one person on the planet, Jaime Hayon, who would take a stunning and exclusive piece of ridiculously expensive crystal, and put ears on it. And not just ears, but lopsided, goofy cartoon ears. It's just so wonderful. It puts a smile on my face, but the ignorance of the monetary value of the piece, the way its playful whimsy contrasts the seriousness of the material and its quality, is so dynamic. The Harcourts are a royal family that trace back over 1000 years in Normandy, but it's also, of course, the name of the Baccarat goblet that inspired its base.

My favorite piece of all of them, though, is this one:
Nuclear Pomegranate, red crystal and white copper ceramic
This one just has everything. It really is all the best parts of the ones above, combined into one piece. The inside of the top section is copper again, and this piece with its carefully carved openings at the top, more than any other, would produce the most mysterious and incredible plays of light. As with all of Hayon's best work, there's something oddly familiar going on, but yet it appears to be a decorative object from outer space, some alternate reality, or the future. Wherever in Hayon's imagination this came from, it's clearly not a part of our universe.

This is also the perfect opportunity to mention the pieces he designed for the Turkish company Gaia & Gino, which I've discussed before:

These were unveiled a while back. You can see some similarities, but they work more with G&G's style and palette of materials, which Hayon seems to be able to do quite effortlessly. In case you can't fork over the price of a compact car for a decorative object, G&G's offerings are a bit more reasonably priced.

©2009, Ryan Witte

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