Jonathan Anderson is crafty—and proud of it. Since arriving at Loewe in 2013, the designer has championed the artisanal heritage of the Spanish brand, which began as a collective craft shop in 1846. In fact, his agenda at Loewe, Anderson said in an interview, has been to build nothing short of a cultural utopia through collaborations with artists and artisans, and the acquisition of significant works of art and design through the Loewe Foundation.
“As we head into an incredibly digital landscape, the more we want to connect to things that are made by hand,” Anderson said. “Loewe is a historical brand. I thought it was important that we do something to support craft, which in many areas is a dying specialty.”
And now, he is perhaps getting one step closer to realizing that luxury Elysium with the launch of the Loewe Craft Prize. Out of some 4,000 submissions from all over the globe in countless mediums, 26 semi-finalists were selected and announced today by an expert panel.
Among the standouts are Adi Toch from Israel, whose enigmatic “Whispering Vessels” transcend their functionality; Artesanias Panikua from Mexico, who weaves humble wheat fiber strands into objects of astonishing lyrical beauty; and Celia Pym from the United Kingdom, who upcycles old sweaters, giving them new life while drawing attention to the possible narratives contained in their worn-out threads.
A jury—including Rolf Fehlbaum, the former chief executive of the Swiss furniture company Vitra; designers Naoto Fukasawa and Patricia Urquiola; W’s editor-in-chief Stefano Tonchi; and Anderson himself—will convene in April and select a winner who will receive a 50,000 euro cash prize. (An exhibition of the works by the shortlisted candidates and winner will follow at the Official College of Architecture of Madrid, better known as COAM, and later in May at Chamber gallery in New York.)
Anderson, who has collected the work of Lucie Rie for years, is known for his love of ceramics, but insists he can be impartial. "They are all seductive in their own ways," he said of the examples of weaving, silversmithing, and woodworking up for the Loewe Craft Prize. “It’s going to be a very tough one.”
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