With his distinctive designs and bold use of colour, Jaime Hayon’s work is as whimsical and playful as it gets. But for an artist with a body of work as large as he has, it is interesting to see how his designs have evolved or stayed the same - giving us a deeper view of the messages his works express.
Lladró’s Rocking Chicken Ride is a reference by Jaime Hayon to the iconic Green Chicken - one of many he makes to his previous works within the Fantasy collection
At its core, Jaime Hayon’s art is about celebrating the everyday moments that make us human, but it’s also about exploring and questioning the status quo of these things that we so often take for granted. Take, for example, Green Chicken, one of his earliest and most iconic pieces. The sculpture features a vibrant green chicken stylised as if it was a rocking horse, celebrating the joy that a child takes from such a simple activity as rocking back and forth. So, you might be wondering, why a chicken? To that Hayon’s answer is why not a chicken? By taking the attention from a majestic horse to a humble chicken, he questions why we choose the horse, reminding us again that the simplest things in life are just as worthy of our time as the grand things.
THE DEEPER MEANING
This meaningful side of Jaime Hayon’s art is what keeps his works relevant. By exploring the everyday through a design language that is understandable and accessible, his art becomes relatable to the average person — something that many artists struggle to achieve. But although his art remains relatable, Jaime Hayon is an artist who designs for the time in which he is creating, and because of that, the style and meaning of his work are constantly evolving. For example, his The Guest and Embraced collections, designed for Lladró, both represent the inner sense of self, but they approach the interpretation from very different viewpoints.
Embraced by Jaime Hayon shows a movement toward acceptance and self-care in a period of unprecedented isolation and turmoil.
A decade ago, when The Guest was first designed, the Arab Spring was ongoing; Julia Gillard gave her famous misogyny speech; a video and subsequent campaign against dictator Joseph Kony broke Youtube streaming records; Facebook purchased Instagram; and Malala Yousafzai became a human rights icon virtually overnight after being shot by the Taliban. The world was changing rapidly, and naturally much of the world’s focus was on reinventing and redesigning both the self and society to keep up— a sentiment that The Guest reflects in its celebration of individuality, but also in its ambiguous form that symbolises our common humanity beyond divisions like race, religion, and gender.
The Guest by Jaime Hayon celebrates the individual self with collaborative pieces personalised by other designers.
Now, in 2022, our world is different. After three years of the Covid-19 Pandemic; a rise in hate crimes and racial violence, and subsequently in anti-violence campaigns like Black Lives Matter; the invasion of Ukraine marking the first major European conflict since WWII; and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, the conversation has evolved from reinvention to accepting our diverse identities and caring for each other and ourselves. In such a tumultuous time, we’re more open and understanding of mental health issues than ever before, yet in a world where we can do anything, our own minds remain the final frontier that we haven’t yet conquered. Pieces like Embraced and Henn Kim’s contribution to the Guest series, which was designed in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, remind us that only by healing ourselves can we allow our true beauty to bloom.
Henn Kim’s The Guest collaboration reminds us that in a world where we can do anything, our own minds are the final frontier to conquer.
JAIME HAYON THE STORY TELLER
The way that Jaime Hayon communicates this meaning has also changed over time. He has always been a storyteller at heart, but his style has evolved over time from a more literal, surface-level meaning to a deeper, more internal introspection. Pieces like the Lladró Fantasy collection, which follows the passage of Hayon’s Lover character on his journey of love and family, tell their story in a way that is more obvious and direct than that of pieces like Embraced. The lover begins his journey alone, then falls in love, then starts a family. It’s a universal story, and although he keeps it interesting with quirky symbolism and subtle references to his previous works, there is no hidden meaning for the viewer to decipher, and even the metaphor of removing your ‘mask’ is depicted literally with the removal of the character’s headpiece as the series progresses. In later pieces, however, the meaning of Jaime Hayon’s work is much deeper and more subtly depicted. The Guest, for example, could easily be viewed as just a cool piece of art to display in your home, but more than that, it’s a celebration of expression and individuality — which at the same time acknowledges with its ambiguous form that regardless of gender, race, or individual expression, we are all the same in our humanity.
The Lover begins his journey alone and masked, with a single lovebird on him showing his need for love. His clothing is a symbol of his metaphorical armour.
As he gives his heart to his partner in Love Explosion, the eyes of his mask become hearts and his clothes change - a breaking down of his walls.
In The Family Portrait, as their lives progress to starting a family, the lover and his partner lose their armour and the cycle begins again with their child.
AN EVOLUTION OF COLOUR
As Jaime Hayon’s storytelling has evolved, his artistic palette has also evolved with it. His early work featured mostly primary and some secondary shades — a palette that focused on the ‘true’ colours of red, blue, yellow, white, black, and green. But as the meaning of his work has become more nuanced, so has his use of colour and tone. Whereas collections like the Conversation Vases have a limited palette of red, blue, black, white, and grey, later collections feature a much broader range of hues like aqua, blue-grey, teal, and the pastel pink and yellow of the Embraced collection. By broadening his colour palette, Jaime Hayon not only keeps his designs relevant and interesting, but he also allows us to see much more clearly the evolution and deepening complexities of his art over time.
Jaime Hayon’s Conversation Vases feature a much more limited colour palette compared to his more recent creations.
Although Jaime Hayon’s designs have evolved in many ways over his long career, it is interesting to see how his works have in many ways stayed the same. From his punchy, whimsical, skate-inspired design style, to his celebration of the little things we so often take for granted, he carries these common themes throughout his body of work — and perhaps that is what makes him such an iconic and recognisable artist.
If you enjoyed this article, try:
- Designer Dive: Jaime Hayon’s whimsical world
- Tradition vs Innovation: How Lladró honours the past to meet the future
- Self-Expression: What our art reveals about us