“I sometimes feel like I fell into doing fashion” says Jonathan Anderson
Loewe creative director Jonathan Anderson set up the brand’s annual craft prize to decode the “chintz” and “pastiche” associations of the discipline, he tells Dezeen in this interview.
Luxury fashion house Loewe recently announced the sixth winner of its annual craft prize at NYCxDesign, which celebrates applied arts and innovation in modern craftsmanship.
A spiky egg sculpture by Japanese ceramicist Eriko Inazaki was selected for the 2023 award from more than 2,700 entries.
“It became chintz”
Anderson established The Loewe Foundation Craft Prize in 2016 in an effort to honour the brand’s 19th-century origins as a leather-making craft collective.
Speaking to Dezeen at the awards ceremony for the prize at The Noguchi Museum in Brooklyn, he explained he also wanted to redefine contemporary understandings of artisanal production.
“I think from the ’80s onwards, [craft] had become this thing which was linked to mid-century, it was pastiche,” said Anderson.
“In Britain, for example, there was a lot of money put into crafts and the Arts Council to boost this idea of making, and then it became maybe chintz at some point.”
The winning sculpture by Eriko Inazaki (front) was displayed among an exhibition of shortlisted projects at NYCxDesign. Photo courtesy of Loewe”The reason why I set the prize up was to try to sort of decode that,” he told Dezeen. “It was like it wasn’t marketed right. The work was there, but the platform was not there.”
Young creatives are now becoming interested in craft once again, he suggested.
“I think younger people are starting to realise that, as much as it’s interesting being a contemporary artist, it can be just as interesting to be a rug maker or to make ceramics or to work with wood,” said Anderson.
“It’s a less sort of diminished form of the arts.”
“I am probably a shopaholic”
Before being appointed by Loewe in 2014, Anderson founded his eponymous label, JW Anderson.
Although differentiated by what Anderson describes as an “angst” at JW Anderson and a “heightened perfection” at Loewe, the two brands share an emphasis on art, design, craft and interiors.
His collections at Loewe often incorporate elements of applied arts – bringing in collaborators and craftspeople, such as metal artist Elie Hirsch who created solid copper and pewter jackets for its Autumn Winter 2023 collection.
Loewe also presented a collection of decorated wooden chairs during Milan design week that were created by global artisans.
“Art for me is always going to be a language no matter what brand I’m in,” he said. “Because I think this is a way for me to kind of explain to the consumer, what I love, or things that I’m fascinated with.”
Anderson works with the internal architectural team to design stores. Photo by Adrià CañamerasThe Northern Irish designer’s love of craft and art extends to the conception of store interiors for both of his brands.
JW Anderson recently unveiled its first flagship store in Milan during Milan design week, designed by Anderson in collaboration with 6a Architects.
“I sometimes feel like I fell into doing fashion but ultimately the interior part is what I love the most,” he said.
“The thing I love about interiors is, it is a singular kind of environment. Whereas fashion is like a transient period that goes in different environments. I quite like with interiors the control that you can have within space.”
He described his love of shopping for items to appear in stores.
“I think I am probably a shopaholic,” he said. “I could be at an auction or be in a gallery and I’ll be like, ‘oh, that’s perfect for Korea or that’s perfect for…’.”
“I think it just adds this element and a pleasingness for a consumer to go in and to a store and to see an original Rennie Mackintosh chair.”
Needle-felted chair and spiky ceramic egg feature in Loewe Foundation Craft Prize exhibition
Anderson feels that for Loewe, the design of stores is sometimes more important than fashion shows.
“I think stores can be more than just like these commercial vehicles,” he said. “I think, for me, the store is just as important as doing a show. It’s sort of even more important because they have to last longer.”
“I’m in a very lucky position at Loewe where I decide everything,” he added. “I have an internal architectural team, but I decide every artwork, I decide every door handle, every fixture.”
However, that does not tempt Anderson to cross over from fashion into interiors permanently.
“I enjoy it because it’s probably more like a hobby,” he said. “It’s something that distracts me from what I do as a day job, but I do it because of the stage of Loewe or JW Anderson.
“But I would never see it as something where I would be like, ‘oh, I’m going to be an interior designer’,” he continued. “There are other people out there that are actually really good at it. I think I’m good at it to an extent, but I change my mind too quickly. I would like it for like a day and then I would want to redo it again.”
The portrait is by Scott Trindle.
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