Of all the luxury houses, the LVMH-owned LOEWE is arguably the most craft-conscious. Overseen by art-loving JW Anderson, the brand is famed for artsy items like its Puzzle Bag, slow-made Paula's Ibiza baskets, and even lofty store interiors, so LOEWE's dedication to its Foundation's yearly Craft Prize initiative is merely an extension of its worldview, rather than a one-off charitable endeavor. After the pandemic forced a delay, the program is back in business, and LOEWE has announced the 2021 winner and runner-ups, and opened the digital doors to a celebratory exhibition for all to behold.
All it takes to enter the LOEWE Foundation's Craft Prize is a piece of handmade "applied art," i.e. jewelry, metalwork, furniture, textile creations, glass items, and so on. As long as it's five years old or less and a partly or completely handmade original work submitted by an entrant who hasn't won a major prize, all are welcome. This generous ruleset draws a diverse pool of talent, fully on display with this year's selections.
Fanglu Lin’s She has taken the 2021 Loewe Foundation Craft Prize's top honors, awarding the Beijing-based artist €50,000 (approximately $61,000). Completed in 2016, the gargantuan work reportedly weighs in at 550 pounds, comprised entirely of exquisitely complex knit cloth textile that's inspired and informed by the traditional sewing skills of Bai Minority women.
Lin's piece is in good company, as LOEWE awarded both David Corvalán's Desértico II and Takayuki Sakiyama's Chōtō-Listening to the Waves special mentions. Corvalán's geomorphological sculpture draws from his Atacama Desert home, shaping layers of resin-coated copper wires into a dully-glistening deep concave. Sakiyama, meanwhile, is a ceramic artist whose work channels the sea's swirling vortex into a shapely orb, finished with a uniquely formulated sand glaze.
LOEWE concocted an online exhibit for this year's finalists, and it also has room to celebrate past years' entrants, literally. LOEWE's The Room was erected virtually as an archive of past Craft Prize competitions, granting guests access to all 115 previous works reviewed by its jury.