A conversation between Enrique Loewe and Izaskun Chinchilla

A conversation between Enrique Loewe and Izaskun Chinchilla







Last June, in CLUB ALMA SENSAI Madrid, we gathered Enrique Loewe and Izaskun Chinchilla together to talk about beauty… Beauty as an honest way to understand our world. It was a magic and timeless moment. With Adrián Salvador, Creative Director of ONESIXONE, acting as moderator, they talked about art, craftsmanship, leather, sense of touch and how important is to look at the past in order to face the future… “Slices of life” said Enrique… This conversation has been included in the prologue of the book from the new collection ENDLESS, curated by the artist Anna Talens.


Enrique  Loewe  –  It  is  a  pleasure  to  be  here  with  you,  Izaskun!  

Izaskun  Chinchilla  –  The  pleasure  is  absolutely  mine,  Enrique.  

E  –     I  have  devoted  many  years  of  my  life  to  working  for  the  pursuit  of  beauty,  to  think,   somehow,  what  was  beauty  and  what  has  it  got  to  do  with  craftwork.  Craftwork  is  trendy   because   it   exists,   because   we   need   it,   because,   in   a   situation   of   losing   our   ways   and   our   values,   in   such   an   ambiguous   and   terribly   anodyne   situation   as   the   one   we   are   living   nowadays,   clinging   to   tradition,   to   earth,   to   history,   grasping   at   all   these   things,   seems   to   be  not  only  a  very  good  alternative  but  also,  it  might  be  our  last  resort…       I   don’t   know   much   about   emotional   design,   because   I   believe   there   is   no   design   without   emotion…   Art   and   beauty   have   both   a   substantial   emotional   and   cultural   component.  They  bring  us  closer  to  our  roots,  to  a different  way  to  see  life.    

I  –     You   have   talked   about   craftwork   and,   curiously   enough,   for   me,   it   means   both   going   back   and   looking   ahead.   I   think   many   people   identify   craftsmanship   with   tradition,   but  I  do  it with  future,  lifestyle,  everyday  activities,  products,  materials  …     Due   to   its   simplicity,   it   seemed   we   wouldn’t   be   given   what   we   were   looking   for   within   a   contemporary   environment   and   product   anymore;   yet,   suddenly,   we   can   return   to  a  countryside  life,  we  can  find  a  tough  willow  or,  carrying  out  some  improvements,  the   perfect  esparto  grass  for  shoes…  It  is  precisely technology and  the  way  things  evolve  what   is   releasing   us   from   modernity’s   impositions.   I   truly   like   this   idea   of   craftsmanship,   in   the   sense  of  a  synthesis  of  what  we  are,  even  more  effective  than philosophy  itself.     It   would   be   very   difficult   for   me   to   give   a   conscious   description   of   what   Spain   is;   however,  when  I  am  manufacturing,  when  I  am  making  and  touching,  I  see  things clearer, I   am   able   to   think   better,   to   synthesise   what   I   have   around   me   and   understand   it   in   the   most  truthful  way.  This  thinking  while  making  is  exactly  what  gives  sense  to  everything.  

E  –    Slices  of  life

I  –    Slices  of  life,  indeed.

E  –   As   Walter   Benjamin   said,   it   is   a   matter   of   leaping   back   to   take   some   bits   from   the   past   and   project   them   into   the   future.   It   is   not   about   looking   for   tradition,   heritage,   different   kinds   of   clay   and   materials;   it   is   about   enlighten,   somehow,   the   present   with   those   bits   of   life.   It   is   like   if   something   happens   that   prompts   us   on   our   way,   on   a   correct   way,   on   a   way   with   the   virtue   to   help   us   know   where   we   are   going,   knowing   well   where   we  come  from….     Bringing   craftsmanship   closer   to   culture,   to   poetry,   to   ballet,   to   music…   I   think   there is  a  sort  of  vibration  in  all  this  that  makes  sense.  It  makes  me  hopeful  to  think  about  ecology   and   sustainability   development;   about,   necessarily,   changing   values   because   the   ones   we   have   believed   in   are   not   possible   anymore,   as   luxury   no   longer   makes   sense   the   way   we   have   perceived   it   up   to   now,   because   there   are   better   options   to   define   human   soul…   a   number   of   hopes   which   are   always   searching   and   finding   within   uncertainty.   We   are  in  a  moment  of  lucidity,  of  truth.    

I  –     You   have   accounted   for   the   slices   of   life   in   the   present,   but   I   would   say   that   they   also  involve  freedom.  Occasionally,  I  listen  to  old  coplas  and  what  they  tell  is  that  the  real   happiness   lies   in   living   along   a   river   while   a   canary   bird   sings   every   morning…   Why   couldn’t   we   be   free   to   live   a   little   how   we   want   to,   coming   back   to   that   longed-­‐for   simplicity?  

E  –     What   is   beauty,   Izaskun?   Not   only   pretty   beauty,   but   desire,   longing,   human   soul   unrest.  I  cannot  help  submitting  you  to  this  question…  

I  –     Beauty  is  a  social  right  to  me.  We  should  struggle  to  think  beauty  is  something  that   has   to   be   at   man’s   reach.   Beauty   is   everything   that   makes   your   daily   life   happen   within   a   much   better   environment,   a   way   to   take   care   of   yourself   as   well   as   others.   It   is   the   aesthetic  ascertainment  of  an  act  of  love.  Love  for  the  rest  of  people  who  surround  you.  

E  –     I   believe   that,   to   understand   beauty,   we   need   opportunities,   formative   exercising   and   aesthetic   training.   An   education   is   needed   to   be   able   to   perceive   those   explosive   moments,   emotionally   important…   Slices   of   life.   Slices   of   beauty.   Beauty   can   also   be   the   unexpected,  one  of  those  great  mysteries  that  accompany  us  through  life.  

I  –     Never,  ever  could  we  separate  the  word  culture  from  the  idea  of  beauty.  Beauty  is   a   level   of   intensity.   That   path   you   mentioned   to   reach   beauty   understanding   is,   necessarily,   culture’s   path.   And   I   think,   not   only   is   it   an   institutional   legacy,   it   is   there:   Harvests,   complete   secrets   of   a   territory,   the   history   of   a   place,   popular   culture…Beauty’s   sublimation  through  the realization  of  the  tremendous,  of  the  intense.     Something   beautiful   makes   life   much   more   powerful,   meaningful,   memorable   and   everlasting.   It   may   anchor   yourself   to   your   memories,   to   that   vital   moment,   and   turn   it   into  a  part  of  what  you  are,  inside  your  personality  and  your  own  nature.  

E  –     I  would  tell  you  that  one  of  the  most  beautiful  experiences  in  my  life  has  been  the   possibility   of   joining   designers   and   craftsmen;   approaching   this   handcraft   work   phenomenon  to  the concept  and  the  idea  of,  suddenly,  producing  beauty  heights.       Touch   understood   as   something   ahead   of   the   feeling   of   touching,   something   that   can   be   sensed   by   other   senses,   that   can   be   seen   and   heard;   as   anticipation,   as   hope.   I   leave   behind   a   well-­‐done   work.   It   is   nice   that   kind   of   collective   pride   of   praising   such   a   material   as   leather,   of   reaching   beauty   with   your   own   hands,   of   having   discovered   a   number  of  possibilities  and  worlds  within  a  material.     Quality   must   be   a   living   concept.   It   is   not   a   factor,   but   a   combination   of   elements  
that   join   together   for   a   particular   purpose.   It   is   more   than   that;   it   is   a   feeling,   an   endless   road.  And  now,  Izaskun,  can  I  ask  you  something  else?  

I  –     Yes,  of  course,  Enrique!  

E  –     Why  are  you  so  smart  and  so  nice?    

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