make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend

make your fridays matter

Jaime Hayon’s NUEVO NOUVEAU at the MAD Brussels is ‘a cave full of treasures’
Glimpses from the exhibition NUEVO NOUVEAU showcasing works of Spanish designer and artist Jaime Hayon at the MAD Brussels
Image: Sam Gilbert

Jaime Hayon’s NUEVO NOUVEAU at the MAD Brussels is ‘a cave full of treasures’

A retrospective of the Spanish artist-designer, the exhibition showcases works from different moments of his career while drawing parallels to the Art Nouveau movement.

by Zohra Khan
Published on : Oct 04, 2023

For me, craftsmanship is the heart. Industrial production is the muscle. Personally, I am drawn to the heart. – Jaime Hayon

For Jaime Hayon, good design must have something to say. The Spanish artist-designer makes sure his work does that, beyond fulfilling the role each creation is born for. A boiling pot of art, design, and decoration, Hayon spins his magic in creating everything under the roof: from furniture, tableware,rugs, and lamps,to interior design, installations, landscapes, and sculptures. Featuring colourful, experimental forms, his projects often draw inspiration from the natural world and joyous tribes of animals. Valencia-based Hayon’s eclectic oeuvre is currently on display at the MAD Brussels, Centre for Fashion and Design, in the Belgian capital. The exhibition titled NUEVO NOUVEAU draws parallel between Hayon’s eclectic practice and the Art Nouveau movement. A green rocking chicken, crystal masks, countless sketches, mysterious ceramic creatures and paintings take over the gallery space, which as per MAD Brussels connect visitors to the portfolio of an artist who embodies the essence of the Art Nouveau movement today.

STIR connected with Hayon to discuss more about the showcase. Following are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Zohra Khan: Do you see any difference between design and craft in your creative practice? Or are these considered two faces of the same coin?

Jaime Hayon: The importance of valuing craft and tradition is very important in all my work. It is a huge inspiration, to understand the strengths of each design culture in a practice. For me, craftsmanship is the heart. Industrial production is the muscle. Personally, I am drawn to the heart. Whenever working with a new material or a company, I need to understand how they do things, why they do things in the way they do, and what their identity and expertise is. I try to learn from this and aim to bring their strengths to a creative challenge that will make something new, always using their strengths - it is the DNA that needs to be respected and protected.

Zohra: Do you consider yourself a designer, an artist or a craftsman?

Jaime: I am a creative person that avoids tags and names. For me there is no limit, there is no difference. Creativity's beauty is that it can take any shape or format. I am an absolutely creatively fuelled person towards everything. It's my personality. It is how I cook, dress, draw, fix my plants... Whatever I do is emotionally driven. Art is always the main source of inspiration - it can manifest in folklore or in nature, but it's all art.

Zohra: Your work is exhibited in Brussels for the first time. Do you associate any connection between the objects and the place or anticipate a key influence the city will have on your oeuvre?

Jaime: I love Brussels and value its creative and artistic vibe, how they are avant-garde with everything. Working together with MAD to curate and give shape to it has been very cool. There is a lot of synergy and we really set out to make something special and wonderful together. There is a lot of Brussels energy in the show.

Zohra: Could you describe the idea behind the exhibition name, NUEVO NOUVEAU?

Jaime: The MAD exhibition - NUEVO NOUVEAU - is a retrospective of my work that explores many different aspects such as product design inspirations and links to production, craft and culture. It features different installations made in various materials like ceramic, glass, fabric, and wood - representative of different moments in my career, from the first one to the most recent ones. The show also features paintings and sculptures as well sketches and origins of ideas. I thought of the exhibit as entering a cave full of treasures, so it is packed with many types of work and creative explorations. It's a homage to creativity and how my work reflects much of the spirit of Art Nouveau. I feel very identified with the concept of a transversal creativity that Art Nouveau explored. From architecture, metal and glass works, and ceiling frescoes, to ceramic elements, and furniture design, creativity is envisioned as a whole, it is not segmented and stratified. Personal styles find many streams that all arrive to one creative ocean and I feel my work has all of these ideals at the heart.

Zohra: Colour is key to your designs. What would you say is the larger meaning of using it in your creative process? And what does it tell about yourself?

Jaime: I see life in colour and value the emotions that colour can bring. Colour can excite you, it can relax and stimulate you. It’s like seeing a painting - colours invite sensations and its good use is powerful. It's difficult to pinpoint when it's done well but when it's done wrong, you can surely tell. When I started working in design everything was so grey – I felt it was dead. Colour to me is life.

Zohra: What are some of the key works from the exhibition?

Jaime: The exhibition showcases some of my most important works in design, art, and installations. From the first installation I ever made (Mediterranean Digital Baroque) to recent paintings, and brand new sculptures that have never been shown before. There are ceramic, glass and wood works, furniture, lamps, original sketchbooks – it’s traveling into some of the best works I have created in the past 25 years.

Zohra: And what about the never-seen-before projects?

Jaime: There are blown glass sculptures that I recently made in Murano, Italy, which is the first time I have used this technique. There are paintings I haven't shown before and a set-up of inspirations linked to my work that is very cool.

Zohra: What is NEXT for you?

Jaime: Who knows? I’m open to challenges.

NUEVO NOUVEAU is part of the Brussels Art Nouveau Year, the Spanish Presidency of the European Union and Design September. Produced with the support of the Spanish Embassy in Brussels and AECID (Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional al Desarrollo), it remains open for public view till January 27, 2024.

What do you think?

Comments Added Successfully!