The Guest is a new platform for character design created by Jaime Hayon for Lladró Atelier. Instead of overlapping the congested market for platform toy art; it maintains an elevated orbit: associated, yet separate. It eschews cheap, Chinese plastic in favor of archival, artisanal Spanish porcelain. Standing atop its wooden pedestal, The Guest has a pristine quality that seems almost untouchable. And for most folks, unfortunately, it will be. The Guest measures 20 inches tall and towers over your toys with a price tag of $2,800.
Welcome to a world where no trend is too modern to be treated with tradition. Lladró, a family company based in Valencia, has been handcrafting fine porcelain since the early 1950s. Yet while Lladró and Hayon have worked together previously, The Guest is really their entry into the micro-niche of high end toy art. It’s a small room they’re in–with France’s K. Olin Tribu and Belgium’s Toykyo–but Lladró hopes to expand the genre’s audience. Will their existing collectors of cherubs and pastoral vignettes develop a taste for toy art?
Lladró invited three “Guests” to participate in the initial launch of the project. Each “Guest” was asked to design two figures, the large in a limited edition of 250 pieces and the small in a numbered series. The result is “six creations reflecting the personal universe of each collaborating artist”: Japanese studio Devilrobots, artist and toymaker Tim Biskup and Spanish designer Jaime Hayon (left to right, above).
The Tim Biskup Lladro Guests (shown above) are known as The 5th Guest (20.75″ x 7.5″ at $2,800) and The 6th Guest (12″ x 4.5″ at $775). The Guest project is an elegant way to merge Biskup’s current fragmented/geometrical fine art with his previous character designs.
Hayon’s Guests are shown above. Compare and contrast them with the Qees and Onion figures produced in plastic and vinyl by Toy2R during the last decade. Does one seem more like “art” and another seem more like “toys”? Does one seem more “cool” and the other more “kitsch”? It’s interesting to think about our own biases and perceptions based solely on the material.
I would definitely invite The Guest to my house. They’re gorgeous and perfect in a way that will polarize toy collectors. If you can open your mind to bone China teacups by Frank Kozik, you can learn to appreciate porcelain by Devilrobots. I spent a lot of time looking at the photos (direct from Lladró and courtesy of Designboom), and I went a little gif-crazy. The Guest is available now in select retailers, like FUTURE PERFECT in New York and online here. Click through for “antiquated” material meets “antiquated” file format: It’s The Guest Gif Mania! What do you think?