PARIS — Recently in Donegal, Ireland, Jonathan Anderson happened upon a gallery sheltering a wizard at basket weaving, Joe Hogan, whose dazzling architectural shapes “looked like Henry Moore sculptures.”
“It’s phenomenal to see how someone can think completely differently,” Anderson said.
The fashion designer’s passion for craftsmanship is expressed in his latest initiative as creative director of Loewe: A new annual international craft prize that comes with 50,000 euros in cash, or $57,000 at current exchange rate, along with exposure via a traveling exhibition and catalog.
Disclosing details of the competition in an exclusive interview, Anderson said it’s open to “anyone in the world who feels like they are doing modern craft.”
Submissions are open from Tuesday through Nov. 7 via a dedicated Web site at loewecraftprize.com.
An expert panel is to select 14 finalists by February 2017, with the winner selected by the jury in April. All the objects are to be displayed in Madrid in May and subsequently travel through Europe, Asia and the United States.
The prize’s objective is to recognize “newness and artistic merit in modern craftsmanship,” according to Loewe, noting that the winning item must reflect “functional and aesthetic value” in equal measure, and be realized with a reinterpretation of “traditional methods to make them relevant for our time.”
The works should also “evince a clear artistic vision, precise execution, material honesty, a will to innovate and the distinct hand of their author,” according to the Spanish house, which is controlled by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
The award reflects Anderson’s passion for craft as a font of inspiration, and his belief that craft goes to the core of Loewe, whose expertise in leather goods dates to 1846.
“Luxury to me is craft,” he said. “I think we forget sometimes that bags are made by human hands.”
The 31-year-old designer, whose signature fashion house, J.W. Anderson, is to mark its 10th anniversary in 2017, has been collecting studio ceramics and wood-turning pieces for almost as long.
In his estimation, appreciation for hand-wrought creations is growing in an increasingly digital world.
Anderson said jurors would include himself, along with museum curators and experts in design, architecture and other fields.
He noted Loewe would place ads calling for entries in craft magazines, and spread the word via social media and local craft councils.