Wednesday night saw the much-anticipated launch of Jaime Hayón’s Sé Collection II” at a petite gallery in Mayfair. As the rain poured down, eager crowds gathered in the minute space. An overly assertive security guard declared the venue as ‘full’; indicating for us hordes of supposed late-comers to wait in line outside in the torrential downpour. Dignity left aside to meet a much-revered contributor to the modern design world; we waited our turn for entry; dressed to the nines and drenched to the bone on display for all outside the gallery window. Atleast the improvised, saturated yellow plastic bag over my head matched my yellow heels…
Meeting the man himself was a delight. A warm, beaming face that made his approachability all the more easy; his humble character was admirable as he chatted to us with a genuine enthusiasm for being where he was, both figuratively in his career and physically in celebration with all there for his latest launch.
Needless to say, the collection took a relatively safe steer from Hayón’s trademark off-the-wall surrealism many of us know and love. Chairs characterised by plush velvet cushioning sat atop wiry, metallic legs in skeletal forms; his work maintained a usual element of vibrancy but was perhaps reflected in different ways (the palette saw steel grey and polished bronze with candy-hued velvets in sky blue and daffodil yellow).
Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel from this collection that Hayón may be steering towards the safer, mainstream end of the spectrum. With the exception of his signature piece (the “Arpa” armchair; a curvaceous, sculptural creation inspired by the harp and dubbed ‘a future icon’), the majority of the collection has inklings towards a slightly retro approach (chubby cushioning in pretty pastels vaguely reminiscent of the 70’s).
What we love is Jaime’s abilities to push the boundaries to the extent he does. His work has the capabilities of transporting us to a specific place in our mind; places far from where our imaginations reach with the work of many Designers. I believe escapism has been one of the main keyholes to Hayón’s success as a designer and installation artist and we have been blessed with his witty, original and whimsical style.
With such distinctive elements to his work however; with such a niche hole he has managed to carve for himself in the world of design comes an equally challenging niche to fill in the commercial and more-so, residential world. Not every bar or restaurant concept can be fulfilled with collections of surreal, fantasy-like pieces nor with the almost magical, exaggerated environments he creates. Similarly, not every living room would quite work (and perhaps so few would) with his “Swarovski sparkle shady” pendants hanging from the ceiling above his outlandish “Paltrona” high-backed chairs.
Hence, to lend credit to Jaime and his recent “Se Collection II”, we have something more versatile and workable in different environments. Where he has turned the notch down in the surreal and fanciful stakes; he has set a more grown-up benchmark for himself and escalated the level of elegance whilst maintaining (albeit more subtly), signature quirkiness. He has opened himself up to a more conventional market, and perhaps allowed a more timeless element to be attached to his work. A motive that can only be expected (and embraced) through the evolution of a young, dynamic Designer.