Nothing demonstrates the freneticism and lightning pace of fashion more than the seasonal runway shows, which in a flurry of live streams, Instagram stories and snapshots wrapped up for another menswear season in Paris earlier this week. A joyful antidote to fashion’s rapid pace is the Loewe Foundation Craft Prize, an award established by the Madrid luxury brand’s creative director Jonathan Anderson and the Loewe Foundation in 2016, to nurture and support global craftsman and their pace, time-honed and heritage-steeped specialisms, from silversmiths to glass blowers, jewellers to ceramicists.
2,500 finalists applied for its third iteration – an increase in its sophomore entrance figures of 44%. Inside Isamu Noguchi’s ‘Heaven’ stone garden in Tokyo – and amongst 29 finalists, from Seoul to Tel Aviv, Kyoto-based lacquer artisan Genta Ishizuka, was crowned the winner of the Loewe Foundation Craft Prize 2019, scooping €50,000.
Ishizuka was awarded the prize by a panel of judges including Naoto Fukasawa, designer and director of the Japan Folk Crafts Musuem, Deyan Sudjic, essayist and director of the Design Museum London and 2018’s Loewe Foundation Craft Prize winner, South London-based ceramicist Jennifer Lee. Ishizuka’s winning submission, ‘Surface Tactility #11' (2018), a glossy and alluringly bulbous sculpture was inspired by the formation of oranges inside a mesh bag at the supermarket. It employs the historical ‘kanshitsu’ technique, first developed in the 7th century in Japan, where consecutive coats of lacquer, produced from naturally sourced urushi sap, are layered over polystyrene foam balls and linen cloth to create glossy shapes. ‘I don’t divide between what is termed art and craft,’ Ishizuka explains of his practice. ‘It’s about materials. Gloss is the most beautiful thing.’ With his winnings, Ishizuka plans to expand the size of his studio, so he can develop larger scale works.
29 finalists of the Loewe Craft Prize 2019 announced (opens in new tab)
‘As a maker myself, I’m fascinated by the way other things are made,’ says Lee of Ishizuka’s process. Ishizuka, who studied at the Royal College of Art in London and is represented by the city’s Erskine, Hall & Coe Gallery in Mayfair, has found particular popularity in the United Kingdom. The same appeal rings true for fellow Japanese metalsmith Koichi Io, whose hammered metal vessels, formed using a single sheet of metal, and richly coloured using a complex patination process, are more popular in the United Kingdom and Germany than his home country. There’s a contemporaneity behind Io’s pieces, which use traditional techniques once seen in samurai sword armour marking and culminate in animalistic forms, which he describes as a ‘conversation between metal.’
2019’s gongs also included two honorary mentions and €5,000, awarded to Edinburgh-based sculptor Harry Morgan, whose piece ‘Untitled’ from Dichotomy Series (2018), marries concrete and glass, and nods to stark forms in Brutalist architecture and Venetian ‘murine' glassmaking. Wang Shu, architect and Pritzker Prize jury member commended Morgan for his ‘confrontation of materials’.
Liverpool-based, Japan-born Kazuhito Takadoi, who studied horticulture, art and garden design, was also awarded for ‘KADO (Angle)’ (2018), a light filled hanging sculpture painstakingly formed from lengths of hawthorn twigs, interweaved using tiny lengths of waxed linen twine. ‘The time of creation begins when I find the material,’ Takadoi says of his process of harvesting twigs from his neighbouring farmer. He hones his designs using tweezers, and his pieces can take months to complete. Takadoi's approach was termed by designer Patricia Urquiola as a ‘craft without a name’. The same can't be said for the names of the Loewe Foundation's Craft Prize winners, whose global recognition is sure to sky rocket.
Berlinde de Bruyckere on religion, chaos and decay: ‘simplicity is the territory of humans’
Ahead of her show at Hauser & Wirth Zurich, Limmatstrasse we speak to Belgian sculptor and visual artist Berlinde de Bruyckere on her show ‘A simple prophecy,’ on from 26 January – 13 May 2023
By Martha Elliott • Published
Under-the-radar bag labels to know
From New Zealand to Japan, get to know the under-the-radar bag labels eschewing trends in favour of long-lasting good design
By Tilly Macalister-Smith • Published
Rala Choi: ‘Now is the time to ask photographers about what photography is’
We profile rising star photographer Rala Choi, whose vivid, ethereal images draw on the legacies of art history
By Sophie Gladstone • Published
Rimowa Design Prize set to celebrate student innovation
The new Rimowa Design Prize is launching in collaboration with 15 universities, celebrating both student innovation and German design
By Martha Elliott • Last updated
Fashion’s finest findings at Design Miami and Art Basel Miami Beach 2021
It wasn’t only art and design aficionados that descended on Miami this week; the fashion crowd also flocked to city, including luxury houses such as Loewe, Saint Laurent and Fendi
By Laura Hawkins • Last updated
Mingardo crafts candleholders as beacon of hope against cancer
‘A Flame for Research’, launching Milan Design Week, sees Italian metal designer Daniele Mingardo invite ten major talents, including Jaime Hayon, Patricia Urquiola, and Philippe Malouin, to create a candleholder in support of cancer research
By Shawn Adams • Last updated
Loewe Foundation Craft Prize 2021 winner announced
Textile designer Fanglu Lin has been awarded the LOEWE Foundation Craft Prize 2021 for her work referencing traditional sewing methods of the women of the Bai minority in Yunnan province, China
By Rosa Bertoli • Last updated
London Craft Week supports the maker community for 2020 showcase
From a day of global creativity to emerging designs uncovered, London Craft Week hones in on the reassuring nature of craft and the community
By Sujata Burman • Last updated
30 Loewe Foundation Craft Prize finalists show mastery with material
Loewe Foundation Craft Prize announces 30 global finalists for its annual award that celebrates contemporary makers
By Sujata Burman • Last updated
Beazley Designs of the Year 2019 winners announced
At the Design Museum ceremony in London tonight, Muji, Pentagram and Adidas are among the winners of the coveted Beazley Designs of the Year 2019
By Sujata Burman • Last updated
Whimsical Murano mirrors scoop Bonhams Prize in Venice
By Laura May Todd • Last updated