It’s hard to believe that Hugh Hayden is only in his 20s. After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in architecture, he traveled the world over from middle America to Japan to Paris and more after being awarded a $20,000 grant to study the relationship between food and architecture. Once settled in New York City, he developed a line of playful furniture, FUNature, that landed him in high-end furniture Meccas like The Future Perfect as well as commissioned work from Lacoste at the 2010 US Open and from Hayden-Harnett which asked him to create a one-of-a-kind installation for its Noho boutique's windows. Most recently, Hayden has been busy helping revamp the Alice + Olivia store in Southampton which moved to a more spacious venue this season. We spoke to Hayden about his go-to furniture stores, his interest in fashion, and more.
The Fashion Spot: How has your background in architecture influenced your approach to furniture design?
Hugh Hayden: It definitely has, I apply the same reasoning system to the smaller scale of furniture.
tFS: Have you always had an interest in fashion?
HH: Yes and no. I’ve always been interested in my personal wardrobe, feeling that the clothes I purchase comes close to those I'd like to design.
tFS: How did you end up working with Hayden-Harnett? What was that experience like?
HH: Sort of randomly, their publicist has seen a tennis ball chair and reached out to me about doing an installation. It was a great experience
tFS: What is it like working with a major brand like Lacoste and what kind of impact does it have on your career?
HH: With a much larger established company like Lacoste, there is definitely more correspondence and red tape, and at the same time notoriety.
Andy Roddick with one of Hayden's racNets chairs.
tFS: You've garnered an incredible amount of press with no PR budget and no publicist. Any secrets?
HH: Ha! My work strives to be relevant to a range of audiences, and luckily some have taken note.
tFS: Was there ever a time you thought of giving up and if so, what made you stick with your passion for design?
HH: Hmmm, not giving up, but I am definitely evolving, moving, now focusing more on fine art, sculpture, and food installations.
tFS: What's the most memorable thing you've ever designed?
HH: A potluck dinner party where I pureed all the food and fed it back to guests through snorkel/funnel hybrids. (Note: I attended this dinner and it was just as over-the-top as it sounds. What Hayden didn’t mention is that he asked all guests to come dressed in white and he tied all of their hands behind their backs, meaning, that if they did not eat the food that was being funneled into their mouths, it would end up splattered on their well-manicured white outfits.)
tFS: What are some of your favorite home, design, and clothing shops?
HH: Atelier, The Future Perfect, thecorner.com, and Costco!
tFS: Who are some of your favorite fashion designers/brands?
HH: Comme des Garcons, Martin Margiela, and Dockers.
tFS: Can you tell us about any innovative home decor items you've seen lately?
HH: More kitchen than home decor, I’ve recently gotten into coffee brewing and Hairo makes several really cool – old fashioned maybe – tools to make drip coffee.
tFS: What's one luxury item you're lusting for?
HH: A pair of Marsell shoes.