HIS Spanish heritage and sense of humour are inherent in everything he creates. Dubbed one of the most influential creative icons of the last decade, artist-designer Jaime Hayon has worked with every possible furniture brand and design-driven companies in the world.
He has accomplished many things in his career, from creating products to curating art shows — all of which have cemented his status as a world-class talent. At only 43, the Madrid-born designer seems to have ticked off almost every item on his bucket list.
But it wasn’t until recently that Hayon opened a new chapter in his career with the opening of the new Hotel Barcelo Torre de Madrid. As a native Madrileno, the chance to create something unique in one of the city’s most iconic buildings enabled him to bring his signature touches to his motherland.
“I was fully dedicated to the creation of a very special and unique space that would represent a new vision of Spain, a vision far from the traditional aesthetic. For me, Madrid represents Spain’s diversity and richness,” begins Hayon, eyes sparkling.
Steeped in Spanish historical and cultural references, Hayon takes the audience on a visual journey through Spain’s past with his design. Roman arches and rich, jewel-like nuances reminiscent of the Arabic and Moorish influences that have helped create the eccentricity and uniqueness of Spain are accentuated. The influences of the past are complemented with an elegant design, unifying historic grandeur with a modern approach.
Throughout the space, natural lighting permeates, casting the spotlight on some of the finest European brands of furniture in their rich palette of colours that reflect the richness and warmth of Spain itself. The designer has created an enchanting space that has become a destination not just for visitors but also for the people of Madrid. Combined with his clever and thoughtful codes of aesthetics, he brings a luxurious glamour to this iconic building located at the very heart of the city.
The Torre de Madrid (translates as the Tower of Madrid) is an emblem of the city. Designed by architect brothers Julian and Jose Maria Otamendi Machimbarrena, Torre de Madrid has enjoyed its position as the tallest concrete building in the world and until 1982, was the tallest construction in Spain.
Since its construction in 1957, the Tower of Madrid, standing at 142m high and with 34 floors, has been a symbol of modern Madrid. Now, with the opening of the Barcelo Torre de Madrid, which is occupying nine of those floors, it has an interior that fully reflects its grandeur and location.
With the completion of this ambitious design, Hayon has given his hometown the ultimate compliment — a beautiful space that pays homage to the wonder that is Madrid, creating an avant-garde hotel to match the glamour of any of Europe’s grand cities.
The news spread like wildfire when Hayon confirmed his involvement with Barcelo Hotel Group to design his first Madrid-based hotel. The wunderkind, known for his whimsical use of colour, has kitted out the 256 rooms and public spaces with his own brand of art and design, incorporating pops of neon, candy pink and soft avocado that’s offset beautifully against the art deco style mirrors, orb lighting and marble finishes.
Barcelo Torre de Madrid amazes through its meticulous details. Every nook and cranny bears Hayon’s signature touch. The choice of furniture pieces, amazing play of mirror cuts and the variants of his elusive masks are some of the must-discover elements of this space.
Entering the lobby, you’re greeted by an enormous sculpture of a zebra-striped bear tipping his large brass top hat in welcome. Embracing a gentleman’s spirit, the enormous sculpture is a wonderful and surreal nod to the coat of arms of the city of Madrid. But it’s also uniquely Hayon in its joyful energy and sophisticated execution.
This playful but imposing tone is carried through to the communal areas and transitional spaces. Luxurious golden-glazed ceramics hang above the stunning Garra bar which features possibly the tallest drinks cabinet in Madrid. It overlooks a cosmopolitan space of Romanesque arches, peering out to the city through windows featuring emblems of Spanish culture. These filigrees are beautifully rendered as brass drawings, depicting Hayon’s signature “masks”. The masks are prominent in most of his artworks and exhibitions.
Throughout the hotel, small sculptures, masks and multiple characters from the designer’s vivid imagination populate the public spaces and hallways. The framed artworks on display are pieces by commissioned photographers Klunderbie, comprising Wiglius de Bie and Nienke Klunder (Hayon’s wife). Taking their cue from Hayon’s desire to showcase the richness and diversity of Spanish culture, the duo have created a series of imageries that combine deeply Spanish subjects — the bullfighter, the flamenco dress, palm trees, a variety of cultural icons and symbols — with their unique approach.
“I said to them, ‘Spanish culture hasn’t been showcased properly. We have an amazing heritage so we decided to bring it to the 21st century, creating modern photography (using historical elements) and being creative with them,” he recalls.
The most poignant elements of Hayon’s vision are translated into commanding portraitures; the artworks feel both exuberant and restrained at the same time. The idiosyncrasy of starkness in beauty but richness in detail is the perfect complement to Hayon’s design.
The furnishings and light fixtures are the result of fruitful collaborations between Hayon and some of Europe’s finest furniture brands and design houses in the last decade. Pieces by Fritz Hansen, Gubi, Arflex and Cassina occupy pride of place in the guest rooms and some public spaces. Each piece is a part of a unified design language that has seen the involvement of many expert craftsmen.
Every corner of the hotel has been designed in such a way as to create vignettes that balance sophisticated aesthetics with comfort and luxury. From the curves of the sofa and chairs to the subtly elegant lighting, the extravagance of colours to the theatrical humour of the decorative details, Hayon’s trademark ingenuity is on stunning display.
In conclusion, he muses: “It’s important to remember that my design are made for humans — to be used by humans. I believe that design should provoke emotions. Design should make you feel good. And design should generate happiness.”