CAPE TOWN — Fresh off his keynote address at the Design Indaba conference, designer/artist Jamie Hayon sat down with Core77 to answer some questions about his practice We’ve covered Hayon extensively on cfile.daily and usually find his colorful works to be refreshingly fun.
In this interview, were particularly interested in Hayon’s thoughts about tech and materials. People are attracted to binaries. Tech is either the Star Trek future we’ve all prayed for, or it’s the death knell of “real” craftsmanship. Hayon has a more nuanced view, or maybe it appears that way because it’s simply practical. Materials and technology are tools, not an end in and of themselves. If one can use them to make something fantastic, great. Otherwise use the method that best articulates your vision.
Here are a few of his answers in that regard. Do read the full interview on Core77.
What is the role of technology and materials in your work?
“It’s very interesting because I think with technology, a lot of people base the content of their work on how they made it, with this high-tech, ecological material or whatever that is in the future. It’s a perfectly fine way to see it, especially because in the century that we live in, a lot of people are constantly researching new materials. If the base of your work is about an innovative material—then your products are going to be innovative just because of that.
“For me I neglected that because I don’t want my content to be based on other people’s research. These days, you go to a fair and see an incredible new chair made out of poop or whatever and you don’t even look at the form of it. You don’t even consider if it’s comfortable or interesting, the process or the assembly. This is because the only thing they are communicating is the crazy material and if that’s the whole point, where is the culture?
“The funny thing is, these innovations will die, but materials that are in museums like glass, crystal, ceramics—they haven’t yet. It’s because they are alive, they change, they are human—they are based on natural resources so they don’t need to be ‘ecological’ because they are already.”
Does the digital, or digital fabrication play a role in your work at all?
“I have been asked to work with high tech stuff—3D printers and things like that. It’s not that I don’t find it interesting, it’s just not necessary to me at the moment. And if I do work with this kind of technology, I would definitely try to find something different. I think its not for me maybe—yet.
“When I went to BMW, I was totally ignorant about how people build cars. But at lunch time there was a moment when I said to an employee ‘with all due respect, your cars are looking very similar to other cars.’ I remember there was a very cold silence for a minute but then they said ‘you know, you might be right’.
“And you know why? Because all the research on the engineering, safety, marketing is based on the results of the wind tunnel testing. Which has to do with more safety, more speed and this is the freaky thing…I’m thinking why the hell is a wind machine shaping every car?
“It’s quite interesting what technology is doing but people don’t know how to use it.”
Do you love or loathe these sentiments about contemporary ceramic art? Let us know in the comments.