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< With extremely tight schedules our talk with Spanish artist-designer Jaime Hayón transpires amidst the Fritz Hansen open house filled with his fans. >
[DesignApplause] Jaime, why are you here tonight?
[Jaime Hayón] I’m here because I wanted to meet you. Also, I’m here because of the chair I designed and it’s a party and I’m here enjoying it. The new chair for Fritz Hansen is named ‘Ro’ which means tranquility in Danish. The size of the chair is a one-and-a-half seater, spacious enough to share with a book, laptop or a big fat cat. The concept is the inspiration from seven cities I’ve selected as well as to remind everyone how busy and hectic urban living is. The chair is meant to be some sort of form of peace and tranquility. We’ve also created a special exhibition which is now here in this showroom for the Salone del Mobile and then it will become a worldwide traveling show.
[DA] Fritz Hansen gave you a brief to design this new chair. You mix-up art, decoration and design ever so nicely. Does a brief affect your style, your aesthetics in any way and did you try something new on this project?
[JH] Well there’s a lot of exercises here in terms of trying to make a very comfortable seat first of all. In fact, I also tried to keep the price very low. Shape-wise there’s an effort to try and make it very human and almost soft.
[DA] It looks great. And I sat in it. It’s more comfortable than it looks which I like.
[JH] Thank you. Even though when you look at the side and edges which are very thin there’s a lot of weight to it. I’m happy about.
[DA] Tell us about the seven cities and the aesthetics and construction.
[JH] The seven cities are Copenhagen which reflects Scandinavia, Milan, Berlin, New York, London, Paris, Tokyo. The fabric colors and material selection for the legs are an expression of my sensibilities for each of the cities. The chair is sculpted to be beautiful from all angles. There are three pieces, head, body and seat. The upholstery comes in a range of fabrics, each with contrasting textures for the interior cushions. The shell and material and seam detail is very similar to the Egg chair, so it’s a polyurethane shell with a steel frame. The legs are very special and require three different moulds. The back legs have one mould and the front have a right and a left.
[DA] The bracket is very unique and something we wouldn’t notice without the mirror base.
[JH] Yes, the mirror concept in the exhibit shows you the bracket detail under the seat plus you also see a map of each respective city which is tacked on the ceiling.
[DA] Are these chairs residential or contract.
[JH] They are both. The construction of contract furniture must pass stiff commercial requirements and be durable. The chair is comfortable while it has the firmness of a contract piece.
[DA] Did you approach Fritz Hansen with this concept?
[JH] No, they called me in expressly to create a chair that would have the potential to become the next classic, something to add to their collection, so 50 years from now Ro would be a classic like the Egg. They called me in a little over two years ago. I worked with their design team to make a chair both comfortable and beautiful.
[DA] What’s your design philosophy?
[JH] At this time of the day? Chilling. But normally have fun, enjoy. Look at things. Live on details. Make quality. Work with the people you like.
[DA] Did you get a chance to look at anything else at Salone?
[JH] Not a chance. I am working. I came here with the chairs to present and I’m going back home with my family, my wife and two young kids.
[DA] Ro will go on sale in nine colors selected by Jaime: violet, blue, yellow, sage green, light pink, sand, taupe, light grey and black. Of interest is each color has a hint of grey in it because he feels if the chair resides in a hotel lobby or one’s home, grey ties into that space. They goes to market September 2013. The chairs for the cities are just part of an exhibition and will not be available for purchase. [ hayón studio ] [ fritz hansen ]