A Bag of Oranges Inspired the 2019 Loewe Foundation Craft Prize Winner

Genta Ishizuka, an expert artisan in ancient Japanese lacquer techniques, took home top honors at the Spanish fashion house’s third annual competition.

Surface Tactility #11 by Genta Ishikuza

Every year, the Loewe Foundation Craft Prize celebrates the importance of craft in contemporary culture and recognizes artists whose talent, vision, and will to innovate can set new standards for the future. Conceived by creative director Jonathan Anderson, the award is a tribute to Loewe’s beginnings as a collective craft workshop in 1846. “As a house, we are about craft in the purest sense of the word,” he says. “That is where our modernity lies, and it will always be relevant.”

Kyōka Suzuki, Genta Ishizuka, and Jonathan Anderson at the 2019 Loewe Foundation Craft Prize ceremony

The Spanish fashion house recently announced the 2019 winner, which was chosen from 29 finalists by a distinguished jury composed of luminaries such as Naoto Fukasawa and Patricia Urquiola. Japanese sculptor Genta Ishizuka, an expert artisan in the ancient urushi lacquer technique, received top honors for his work Surface Tactility #11. The otherworldly sculpture uses the kanshitsu technique, naturally sourced urushi sap, and consecutive coats of lacquer to forge a glossy allure that emanates both depth and transparency. The interplay between exterior and interior harks back to Ishizuka’s inspiration; oranges in a mesh bag spotted at the supermarket. 

“Ishizuka’s work proves that craft can be open and shows the freedom of creation,” says Anderson. “His use of an ancient lacquer technique in a contemporary form breaks conventions and represents a new sculptural vision in craft.” Ishizuka, who was honored in a special ceremony in Tokyo, received a silver trophy and a cash prize of 50,000 Euros.

Harry Morgan's 'Untitled' from the Dichotomy Series and Kazuhito Takadoi's KADO (Angle)

The jury also acknowledged two special mentions: Harry Morgan, for the work ‘Untitled’ from Dichotomy Series and Kazuhito Takadoi for KADO (Angle). “Harry Morgan’s radical work is a paradoxical confrontation of materials which don’t belong together,” says the jury. “He brings a craft spirit to common materials.” The jury further admired Takadoi’s work for “being a craft without a name” and applauded his “involvement in the piece from conception, from growing the material in his garden to creating an object with a powerful form.”

The winner and shortlisted works will display at Isamu Noguchi’s indoor stone garden “Heaven” at Tokyo’s Sogetsu Kaikan until July 22. Browse our favorite works from the shortlist.

Winning and shortlisted works on display at Tokyo’s Sogetsu Kaikan
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