‘You can make a great design, but if it’s not photographed well, it won’t make it’

Valencia – Whether it’s a Green Chicken rocker or a retail interior for a jeweller in India, for designer Jaime Hayon there’s nothing better than something you haven’t done before. Here is a collection of things he has actually done before – and learned from – in order to arrive at that conclusion.

My studio – with a staff of six – is at the centre of Valencia. I also run an office in Treviso, with another six people. With this core, I expand as needed to deliver each project. I could take on more people if I wanted to. The potential to grow is there. But for what purpose? I’m not a corporate guy. I take on the jobs that I want. That’s richness to me.’

As part of the international design scene, I get a lot of offers. But I’m constantly “curating” those offers. It’s not about money, because these days there’s enough work and enough money. I take projects for the challenge. There’s nothing better than something you haven’t done before.’

I have a clear philosophy. I work with people I like. Whether it’s a client or an artisan, I want to work with people I can commit to, and who can commit to me. I don’t just respond to a brief. That’s boring. That’s the old way of design. Today it’s about a dialogue. It’s me and you. It’s your day, it’s my day, it’s our wine, it’s this moment. Good design comes out of doing things in a pleasurable way – with an open dialogue in a cultural climate. It speaks for itself.’

Design is a very hard profession. It covers a lot of ground, and you have to be intelligent enough to see the whole picture. You can make a great design, but if it’s not photographed well, it won’t make it. You can photograph it well, but if you don’t have good distribution channels, you’re doomed. You can distribute it well, but if you don’t publicize it properly, it won’t be a success. You also need to understand the DNA of the company that’s manufacturing the design. You have to make something sustainable, not just for the earth, but for the company itself. You cannot kill the company you’re working for. It’s about evolution, not revolution. That is extremely important.’

Design has to be for people. You go to a fair and see so much that doesn’t work. The chair is uncomfortable or can’t be made for an affordable price. It’s so boring. Let’s get down to earth. People have to live with this stuff. That’s the thought that drives me and that will move this profession forward.’

To young designers I say: believe in your work, and work with people you like. Remember that when you do something new, nobody’s going to want it at first. People are afraid of what’s new. Creativity is about scaring people. It’s not about oooh, its beautiful, how nice. It’s about doing things you’re not sure of, about learning from doing. Evolution is the most important thing for me as a designer.’


This is an edited version of our interview with Jaime Hayon, featured in full in What I’ve Learned. The book, which also includes conversations with the likes of Patricia Urquiola, Alexandre de Betak and Hella Jongerius, is available for purchase here.

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