Loewe Craft Prize

Loewe Craft Prize

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Loewe's Creative Director Jonathan Anderson shares how to find the right balance of finalists for the brand's inaugural Craft Prize
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How to define craft? Is it a way of life? A culture? A competence mastered over years of practice?

Spanish luxury leather brand Loewe, whose own heritage was founded on a collective craft workshop in 1846, has benchmarked its parameters for excellence in craft through their inaugural Craft Prize, specifying its aims ‘to acknowledge the importance of craft in today’s culture and recognise working artisans whose talent, vision and will to innovate will set a standard for the future.’ 

The Craft Prize shortlist of 26 finalists was chosen from nearly 4,000 submissions from over 75 countries by a cross-disciplinary panel who judged the works on their technical accomplishment, innovation and artistic vision. The panel included: John Allen, master weaver and textile designer, Claudi Casanovas, ceramist, Sara Die Trill, Loewe accessories designer, Ramón Puig, jewellery artist, Markku Salo, glass artist and Anatxu Zabalbeascoa, architecture and design correspondent for El País. 

Loewe’s Creative Director, Jonathan Anderson tells us more about finding the right balance in the selection process…

Having conceived the Loewe Craft Prize, was there anything that was surprising or unexpected within the submissions that you received? 
It was a very interesting process. We received around 4,000 submissions, and I was happily surprised by the diversity of work and where it was coming from. Candidates from United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Argentina, Belgium, Spain, Japan, Bangladesh… The most important thing for me was to be able to build a platform for people to showcase their work.
 
What was your approach to selecting potential finalists, apart from them fulfilling the specific criteria set – was there another side to the decision making? 
The editing process was always going to be difficult. The panel was made up of experts from all different fields and we didn't want to let people down. For the panel, the best part was discovery; the first reaction to the new is important, but so is being able to go through all the submissions and look at every individual, to make sure we had a mix globally and from the diverse fields of craft. 

Was it an objective of the Prize to help broaden general preconceptions of what craft is and can be? 
Craft is incredibly tangible and its importance is sometimes underestimated. Craft can be incredibly influential upon art, in its ability to make an object with its own formula and language that fundamentally creates a dialogue that did not exist before. Living in a modern digital age, we all want to reconnect with ourselves, as much as with other people, and to be able to re-engage as a culture again. 

‘Tree of Life 2’ by Ernst Gamperl was announced as the winner of the 2017 LOEWE Craft Prize. President of the jury, architecture and design correspondent for El Pais, Anatxu Zabalbeascoa explained the jury had selected this work, ‘for the way in which this work explores the meeting point between formal values and a social message. This is an object that is both beautiful, and teaches us the value of recycling. It is based on rescuing fallen trees and bringing nature back to life with exquisite skill. It is the work of a gifted craftsman who has the special ability to have developed a distinctive individual voice rather than a style or signature’.

Special Mentions were given to, ‘Structural Blue’ by Yoshiaki Kojiro and ‘Tata Curiata’ by Artesanías Panikua

All the finalists work is on display in Madrid from 11 April and will subsequently go on view in New York (Chamber Gallery, May 30th to June 6th, 2017), Tokyo (November, 2017) and London (Collect Saatchi Gallery, February 22nd to 26th, 2018. 

loewecraftprize.com

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Finalists work pictured:  Ernst Gamperl, Yoshiaki Kojiro, Artesanias Panikua, Sara Flynn, Shuji Nakagawa, Adi Toch, Ann Low, Sylvie Vandenhoucke, Celia Pym, Sangwoo Kim and Zhilong Zheng.