Daily Features

Funtastico: Jaime Hayon Looks to the Future

The Madrid-born designer talks about his latest chair design

By Jennifer Krichels, Superscript September 19, 2013

Next month, the Groninger Museum will present Funtastico, the first significant exhibition of work by Madrid-born designer Jaime Hayon. The Netherlands institution is a fitting location for the show; Hayon’s surrealist Mediterranean Digital Baroque and Mon Cirque ceramic installations are already in its collection, and the designer completed a renovation of the museum’s information center in 2010.

Funtastico promises to present Hayon as an increasingly important breed of designer, one who transcends disciplines and mediums to work on projects both conceptual and commercial. Almost simultaneously this fall, Danish furniture company The Republic of Fritz Hansen is introducing Hayon’s Ro chair in the United States. I had a chance to visit with Hayon at the chair’s European launch during Milan’s design week earlier this year. As we spoke I thought of Fritz Hansen’s collaboration with another multi-disciplinary designer, Arne Jacobsen, which resulted in some of the most iconic furniture of the 1950s, including the Ant, the Swan, and the Egg, a womblike lounge chair still produced by the company. Hayon's design creates a similar cocooning comfort, but with today's multi-tasking, technology-using design lover in mind. I couldn’t help but wonder—is this the Egg chair of the 21st century?

Designer Jaime Hayon sitting in his Ro chair for Fritz Hansen. Photo courtesy of The Republic of Fritz Hansen.

Jennifer Krichels: Tell me about the design brief that Fritz Hansen gave you.
Jaime Hayon:
The brief was not very clear. They gave me a brief that was: Let’s make a comfortable seat. A comfortable seat? What is that? Is it a sofa, is it a chair, is it a dining chair? We thought about the Egg. That’s one of the only lounge chairs they’ve had. 

Like a ceramic vase, the Ro chair is meant to be seen from every angle. Its form is almost anthropomorphic, a technically difficult shape that is curved in multiple directions. Photo courtesy of The Republic of Fritz Hansen.

JK: How did you start to envision that new, comfortable chair?
The first thought was let’s look at how people sit. I’ve analyzed how people sit from the top, and the movements they make—what are the tools they use today? You’re with your cell phone, you’re with your computer, you’re carrying a baby, you’re sitting with your boyfriend. That is how we came up with a one-and-a-half-seater; in general it’s a comfortable seat that allows you to move.

The Book

Jaime Hayon: Works Jaime Hayon

JK: How did that research evolve into the finished form?
If you look at the form, it’s the same as the movement of your back. You see it if you look at the chair sideways; I wanted this to be immediate. You have the form of the neck and the body. So this is the beginning: Let’s make it comfortable visually. In general, nobody makes visually comfortable chairs; they make squares. This was supposed to be comfortable when you look at it. We added a pillow. When you look at it, it’s light. It has ballerina legs. It’s touching the ground in a light way, a very subtle way. It’s a big chair, but in the end the proportions are proper. No matter what, when you are turning it around you have a shape that is not boring.

Hayon's concept sketches for Ro. Photo courtesy Hayon Studio.

Hayon completed a renovation of the Groninger Museum's information center in 2010. Photo courtesy of Hayon Studio. 
comments powered by Disqus