Bamboo Artists Craft Leather Goods For LOEWE

Spanish luxury brand Loewe explores worldwide traditions of basketry for their fifth run at Salone Del Mobile in Milan. The ‘LOEWE baskets’ exhibition showcases an assortment of goods crafted with premium Loewe leather and expressed in styles inspired by the cultural customs of 11 international artists and craftsman selected for the project. Among the group of elite designers are South African collective Design Afrika, Irish craftsman Joe Hoganto, and two of Japan’s leading bamboo artists, Jiro Yonezawa and Hafu Matsumoto.

Jiro Yonezawa spent a year at the Beppu vocational arts training centre learning the basics of traditional bamboo weaving and trained under master craftsman Masakazu Ono, prior to spending two decades in the United States and returning to Saiki in the north of Kyushu, Japan.

Hafu Matsumoto is now known for his mastery of the noshitake technique, which involves flattering whole pieces of bamboo into wide strips, heating them in warm water, and then twisting them into organic shapes. He has exhibited internationally, including at Ippodo Gallery in New York, where his work caught the attention of Loewe creative director Jonathan Anderson.

‘Unlike bamboo, leather is very soft and pliable, so I made cores from Styrofoam, wood and paper for integrity,’ he explains. All three pieces are snugly woven around these cores, giving the pieces a sculptural quality not usually associated with any weaving technique.

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George Nakashima