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Who would embody the essence of the Art Nouveau movement today? Someone who is not afraid to experiment with different disciplines: from design and furniture making to painting and interior design. Spanish artist and designer Jaime Hayon (°1974), also referred to as the modern-day Antoni Gaudi, represents all these aspects: from mysterious ceramic creatures and poetic objects to colourful interiors and intriguing paintings. Challenging the boundaries between art, decoration and design, Hayon’s creations are not only full of optimism, but also reveal the skills of a true craftsman.
This autumn, MAD Brussels presents the solo exhibition NUEVO NOUVEAU by the Spanish artist and designer Jaime Hayon. We had a talk with Jaime, about his design practice, his evolution as a designer and his connection to Art Nouveau.
You’re an artist and designer. Where do your design practice and art practice meet? What do they have in common, and what makes them different?
"I feel art has always been the primary lens through which I envision creativity. Creating emotional links and working on color as a means of expression have been a constant throughout my work. I don't really think about separation between design, interior design, art installation or paintings. People do not always understand as they tend to put art and design in different boxes. For me, there are no such boxes, creativity is born to be free."
"The only difference for me is function - when creating a product or engaging in an interior design project, function needs to be considered and given a key role. Aside from this, it's all a blank canvas for me when starting a new project. On whichever media I work, I always establish a theme first and work around this idea. Creative challenge is always at the center of everything."
Which were key moments in your evolution as designer/artist?
"I think the most fundamental learning curve came when I arrived at Fabrica. This is Benetton’s research communication center lead by Oliviero Toscani, who was very demanding but also very inspiring. There was design, 3D, photography, web design etc… It was a boiling port of creativity where people from all over the world came together. I collaborated together with all these creative people and made projects that were actual and real for very important clients. With every project I felt like I was jumping off a cliff. There was a lot of pressure, but also a lot of freedom. I learned to cope with all of it quickly and learned that the use of communication is an important tool to share your work. "
"I spent nearly 6 years there, the first year as a student and the following 5 as a teacher. It was like a creative bootcamp which defined my path and made me look at the entire world as a possibility."
Can you describe your style?
"My style is based on how I see the world and, although my creative language has evolved and matured throughout the years, its essence has always been the same. Use of color: it is simply how I see the world: a colorful place. Nature is full of color. Color is expression of our emotions and creates moods and vibes. Use of organic shapes: nothing in nature is made of straight lines. Organic shapes are kinder, will not harm you. For me, they are also more beautiful."
The exhibition Nuevo Nouveau is part of the Brussels’ Art Nouveau Year. What is your connection to Art Nouveau?
"I feel a strong connection to Gaudi and the modernist movement. The high value of craft and how nature, with its organic shapes and motifs, is at the heart of every creation. I admire the way they did not fear to explore, to expand, to go a little bit crazy and dive into imagination boldly. "
"I do find many ways Gaudi’s work and mine have similar characteristics. I feel very identified with his concept of a transversal creativity. From architecture to metal works, to glass works, to ceiling frescoes, to ceramic elements, to furniture design, Gaudi envisioned creativity as a whole, it was not segmented and stratified."
Can you give us a hint of what you will exhibit at MAD?
"Nuevo Nouveau is a retrospective of my work and explores the many differences of it. It will feature different installations, made in various materials like ceramic, glass, fabric, wood – which are representative of the different moments in my career. The show will also exhibit paintings and sculptures as well sketches and origins of ideas."
"I want the exhibition to be like entering a cave full of treasures, packed with many types of works and creative explorations. I want people to dive into the freedom of creative transversality. Break the boundaries and experiment with how different media, materials and ideas can feed the work and challenge the way it evolves."