Ten years ago, renowned Spanish artist-designer Jaime Hayon conceived The Guest – a sculptural masterpiece which grew into Lladró’s most captivating character.
An artwork with many faces, The Guest has since been an inspiring blank canvas for celebrated artists of different nationalities to tell their stories through iconographic languages.
Jaime kickstarted the collection by focusing on craft, drawing from his personal experiences. His repertoire includes having designed numerous pieces of furniture, shoes, timepieces, lighting fixtures, art installations, ceramics, and other home accessories. Named one of the top 100 most significant creators of our era by Times magazine, Jaime’s revolutionary vision blurs the lines between art, decoration, and design. The Madrid-born artist speaks through The Guest, nodding to themes historically favoured by Lladró, like love and childhood.
Pushing the boundaries with a subtle sense of humour, Jaime finds his creative spark kindled by Lladró’s unique savoir-faire. “I wanted to be part of the company’s evolution; my intention was never a revolution. For several generations, its artisans have accrued control over an art form and techniques. My task was to add that extra contemporary touch,” he explains.
Among artists swayed by Lladró artisans’ passion for details are Tim Biskup, Devilrobots, Gary Baseman, Rolito, Paul Smith and more. Each brings to the table new concepts, designs, and colours on the same canvas. Through inspired collaborations, each creates irreverent yet distinguished figurines which have become 21st-century icons.
“Today, art’s ability to make us dream, imagine, reflect, and even aspire is really important. Artistic explorations increasingly evince this special way of projecting ourselves in realities that move us and make us feel,” Jaime shares. The Guest reflects his desire to demonstrate that tradition is open to experimentation and can lead to unexpected and distinctively original conceptual paths.
In The Guest project, there is something exceptional to appeal to everyone. US artist Tim Biskup expresses his vision of a “populist aesthetic”, toying with skull and raindrop motifs in connection with nature. Conversely, the Japanese design team Devilrobots employ joyful colours, polka dots and stripes with the purity of black to create fun, emotive, and extravagant expressions in line with their expertise in toy design.
Meanwhile, eclectic artist Gary Baseman lends his “adorably perverse” vision to creating beautifully bizarre otherworldly iterations of The Guest that are certain to serve as iconic conversation starters in any living space. The Guest by Rolito imagines a superhero of the night, protecting sleepers and warding off nightmares with his trusty sidekick. The celebrated French designer and illustrator borrowed inspiration for the concept from his young son to interpret the sculptural pair with a comforting take.
British designer Paul Smith opted for a different approach. “These are pieces that I would like to have at home. Optimistic, fun, happy, full of colour and sense of humour, that’s what makes them Smithy,” the designer mentions. Sprinkled with confetti and covered with cat and dog masks, Smith’s whimsical expressions combine tradition and modernity with ease. “Each one is created and painted by hand in the Lladró workshops in Valencia, something which is increasingly more unusual in our computerised and mechanised world,” Paul concludes.
Lladró’s cooperative effort with international artists is nothing short of extraordinary. The porcelain experts navigate their own unique artisanal processes through close collaboration, tapping into almost 70 years of profound knowledge as decorators and artisans work materials by hand, from chemistry to modelling, carving, relief, etching and painting. Age-old crafts and techniques stay alive, turning porcelain into delicate works of art that are fun, elegant, and ground-breaking. The artisan process behind The Guest, with the countless steps involved, proves how rewarding and fruitful is the tandem between contemporary design and traditional efforts.
“Understanding, appreciating, and learning from artisanship has always been a crucial part of my work, which is a mix of tradition and culture. To preserve this source of learning it is necessary to couple it with design, with a view to advancing artisan techniques and to contextualising their value in the present,” Jaime explains.
This spring, Lladró is opening its first boutique at Bangsar Shopping Centre, Kuala Lumpur. Designed in line with the concept created in conjunction with the renowned architect and interior designer Héctor Ruiz Velázquez, the stunning boutique is the first of its kind in the country. Geared to those with sophisticated tastes and a deep appreciation for sustainable and modern artistic expressions, Lladró is ready to share its handcrafted marvels with a new generation of appreciators.
This story was first published on Prestige Malaysia
(All images: Lladró)