Korean artist Dahye Jeong has been named the winner of the 2022 Loewe Foundation Craft Prize, announced today at the unveiling of the craft prize exhibition at the Seoul Museum of Craft Art (SeMoCA). 

Aged between 28 and 63, the emerging and established craftspeople in this year’s shortlist were selected by a panel of experts from more than 3,100 submissions hailing from 116 countries and regions. 

The work of all 30 finalists will be exhibited from 1 – 30 July 2022 at SeMoCA in a carefully curated show that demonstrates the wide-ranging contemporary approaches to centuries-old craft traditions including textiles, leather, basketry, glass, jewellery and woodwork. 

Loewe Foundation Craft Prize 2022 winner Dahye Jeong, with her work A Time of Sincerity, horsehair, 2021
Loewe Foundation Craft Prize 2022 winner Dahye Jeong, with her work A Time of Sincerity, horsehair, 2021

Jeong was selected for her mastery and timeless approach to weaving with horsehair, a 500-year-old Korean Joseon dynasty technique originally used in Sabanggwan hat-making. Jeong’s exhibited work, A Time of Sincerity, 2021 demonstrates the artist’s meticulous approach to her material. The freestanding vessel appears translucent in its lightness; fragile, but surprisingly sturdy. The strands of horsehair are intricately woven in geometric patterns that pay homage to the now rare Sabanggwan tradition. 

‘It’s such a great honour to receive this award,’ says Dahye Jeong. ‘I don’t think this is just my effort, it is the effort of my ancestors who have been been working on horsehair craft since the Joseon dynasty, so it’s a group work.

‘Art [always offered] a way of expressing oneself,’ she continues. ‘Back in the day, historically, craft also had that. But as time passed, this changed. In an era of fast-moving, technological advancement, [in] slowly building a single craft, I ask myself, “What does this mean to me, and to people?” Loewe having this kind of prize is reinforcing the true meaning of expressing oneself, that this is a valid feature of craft.’

Loewe Foundation Craft Prize 2022, exhibition view
Loewe Foundation Craft Prize 2022, exhibition view, Seoul Museum of Craft Art (SeMoCA)

This year’s jury comprised 13 leading figures from the worlds of design, architecture, journalism, criticism and museum curatorship. These included Jonathan Anderson, Loewe creative director; ceramicist Magdalene Odundo; designer Patricia Urquiola; essayist, director emeritus of London’s Design Museum, and Wallpaper* contributing editor Deyan Sudjic; former director of the National Museum of Korea, Hongnam Kim; and industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa.

‘It’s about ideas and about skill and looking at the whole 30 shortlisted; you see some people are exploring keeping traditional skills alive, and other people are experimenting with new ones,’ says Sudjic. ‘What we got with the winner this year is a very ancient traditional skill used for this astonishing tradition of “the useless hat”, but something which means an awful lot to Korean culture. You realise the hundreds of hours of labour that went into creating that form. You can see it’s a living material.

‘It’s a recurring theme: tradition, and the will to break tradition. The desire not to be different and emulate a previous tradition, and in this particular region, perhaps there’s more respect for tradition, particularly as it’s going through such rapid change,’ Sudjic continues. ‘People want something to hold on to and assert their identity. The sense of who people are is reflected in their artefacts and the skills they value.’ 

This year’s jury extended special mentions to two artists with a boundary-pushing approach to their respective crafts. These were South African ceramicist Andile Dyalvane and German jewellery maker Julia Obermaier.

Loewe Foundation Craft Prize 2022 exhibition view
Loewe Foundation Craft Prize 2022, exhibition view, Seoul Museum of Craft Art (SeMoCA)

The annual Loewe Foundation Craft Prize was launched in 2016 by Jonathan Anderson to recognise excellence, artistic merit and innovation in modern craftsmanship, and as a tribute to Loewe’s roots as a 19th-century collective craft workshop. 

‘I collected craft and still do to this day, and it’s something that really speaks to me,’ Anderson tells Wallpaper* at the opening of the exhibition. ‘I think by giving it a platform, which is a global platform and using the power of the brand, and the legacy of the brand, we’re able then to create platforms for other people and I think this is what’s really exciting because it has integrity, and this is what’s crucial as the prize evolves, keeping that integrity.’ 

Loewe Foundation Craft Prize 2022: the full shortlist

Andile Dyalvane (South Africa) – special mention 
Annika Jarring (Sweden)
Awaré (France)
Beate Leonards (Germany)
Blast Studio (United Kingdom) 
Chikuunsai Tanabe (Japan) 
Dahye Jeong (Republic of Korea)
David Clarke (United Kingdom) 
Domingos Tótora (Brazil)
Eleanor Lakelin (United Kingdom) 
Fernando Casasempere (Chile) 
Fredrik Nielsen (Sweden)
Julia Obermaier (Germany) – special mention
Junsu Kim (Republic of Korea)
Kate Malone (United Kingdom) 
Konrad Koppold (Germany)
Lu Bin (China)
Madoda Fani (South Africa) 
Marianne Huotari (Finland)
Mayumi Onagi (Japan)
Mel Douglas (Australia)
Minwook Kim (Republic of Korea) 
Myungtaek Jung (Republic of Korea) 
Pao Hui Kao (Taiwan)
Peter T McCarthy (Côte d’Ivoire) 
Sangwook Huh (Republic of Korea) 
Soyun Jung (Republic of Korea) 
Trinidad Contreras (Spain)
Vera Siemund (Germany)
Yongjin Chung (Republic of Korea) §

Loewe Foundation Craft Prize 2022
Loewe Foundation Craft Prize 2022, exhibition view, Seoul Museum of Craft Art (SeMoCA)