Pure Sweetness

Jaime Hayon’s Pure Sweetness: The Refined Design of Baccarat’s Crystal Candy Set

Jaime Hayon’s color-laden dream world, manifested in visual form, is a place where functional ceramic cacti, multi-legged cabinets, and green rocking chair chickens all co-exist and make perfect sense.

His highly lacquered, visual language—code-named the Hayon Universe—oscillates between absurd, wildly optimistic, and flat-out surprising. Now, his world is even sweeter, with the debut of The for Baccarat, a nine-piece collection of sculptural vases, limited to 25 of each design.

Looking to sweet treats and continuing the unexpected mix of materials and colors, The Crystal Candy Set includes Harcourt Lolly, BonBon Treasure, Blackberry Freeze and Nuclear Pomegranate. Touches of olive green, red and amethyst, plus white copper ceramic, all cut and crafted at Baccarat’s factory in eastern France, complement the clear crystal.

Here we see Hayon at his best, working in fine art, color and shape. The prism of light adds a new dimension from previous work, especially without his lacquered signature. While rooted in historical methods, he creates the sensation of arriving at a new answer, or going to a new place. Although the names are humorous and colorful, the pieces themselves don’t completely hide behind novelty.

As shown in Jaime Hayon Works (Gestalten, 2008), the Spanish designer’s bureau lamp sketches for the historic, 250-year-old French producer of crystal, almost resembles an ornate alternative to Ferruccio Laviani’s Bourgie Lamp for Kartell.

Ultimately, that previous work rooted the concept for The Crystal Candy Set’s select mix of ceramic and crystal. It’s the first from Hayon on what’s been titled “Rencontres,” (Fr., ‘casual meeting’), referring to both the non-traditional employment of materials, and the artistic conjuncture of past and present. Baccaract has previously produced designs by William Sawaya, Ettore Sottsass and Mathias.

Hayon manages the balance of his own artistic identity with the rich, and contemporary Baccarat legacy, explaining, “When faced with a company with tradition and history, I am very sensitive to respecting their codes and their know-how. I think it is disrespectful to forget a company’s DNA when designing for them. That is why it is essential for me to understand what they do and how they do things in order to be able to propose projects with fantasy that are creatively rich, but that agree with the brand’s identity.”

The approach rebuffs notions about form and function. “To be honest, I don’t care very much for these issues,” he says. “Both are essential, but their ratio of importance varies according to the type of project we are speaking of. My main concern is for pieces to have a personality and tell a story. Of course, comfort and functionality are key elements to a good product, but this should not be an excuse for lack of beauty.”

Hayon, 35, began his career under Oliviero Toscani at Benetton’s creative lab, Fabrica. He moved from student to head of the Design Department, leaving to debut his own studio in 2005. Many of his works are notable for the mix of Spanish cultural influences with Italian craftsmanship. Working with traditional techniques and materials like porcelain and ceramic, he’s completed commissions for a range of European companies: Camper, Metalarte, Bd Barcelona Design, Pallucco, and Liardo, to name a few.

While these projects haven’t yet made Jaime Hayon into a household name, they’ve made him a mega star in the design world. “I prefer my freedom above all,” he says. “Of course there are always deadlines to meet, and I try to cope with this the best possible way, but I am a perfectionist and cannot help going over and over details that can always be improved. Our studio has a very free structure, and I am comfortable within this.”

– Michael Cohen