Jonathan Anderson, Creative Director of LOEWE and JW Anderson, is one of the leading designers of our time. “I think arts and crafts are at the heart of everything for me,” says Jonathan, who has a deep knowledge of art, such as founding The LOEWE FOUNDATION Craft Prize. Having his grandfather as a ceramic collector, it was natural for him to live surrounded by art from an early age. Here is a conversation with Jonathan Anderson. Silver asked him about ‘Daily Chic,’ a special feature in our latest issue. What we learnt here is about his philosophical thoughts of curating art and creating a new story through dialogue between ‘things.’
At Jonathan’s home, which has been featured in various magazines as a ‘home gallery,’ there are many artworks curated by his aesthetic. “These items that I have been collecting over the years are something like a diary, and my home is a reflection of my personality,” said Jonathan. “Reflecting your own identity and knowing what you like is important when you curate things, furthermore it will create ‘Daily Chic.’ For me, there is nothing more exciting than looking at something you cannot do. I can’t make you a wooden chair. Ultimately, collecting these things creates the space I want,” commented the designer.
In England, where Jonathan lives, leaving home is still restricted since the first lockdown was imposed about a year and half ago. Lockdown in England is much stricter than in Japan, and the only shops allowed to open are grocery stores. “I’m thinking more. More deeply, and more abstractly while I am working and doing a lot of researching at home.” He shared with us that the pandemic changed his way of thinking. “During this lockdown, I became quite obsessive about something more authentic and old fashion, which is different from the modernity of the day. But I’m not talking about the sixties, seventies or mid-century or stuff like that. I’ve become intrigued by classic houses, for example, of English wealthy families, built by one of the prominent English architects, Robert Adams, with furniture made by Thomas Chippendale. From the 16th century to the present day, as the generations of these families went on, different items were added to the house and changing by themselves. From the house, you can see how the family changed through history.” He understands art not only from visual or superficial aspects but also from multidimensional ones. His tastes or likings shift over time, and this is obvious when you look at his personal space. And the space where Jonathan spends his daily life and sees all the things he curated is a symbol of his Daily Chic.
Jonathan told us that he was fascinated by old fashion items, but he thinks nothing is more boring than arranging a room with only things from the same era. “Because during the day we have different moments, I find it very difficult for things to go in one direction. I think in a home you need moments where you’ll have a darker room which is a bit more calming, or you need an area where you need to work with, so there needs to be a different form of surroundings.” He continues, “I like to create a ‘dialogue’ by putting imbalanced things together to talk to each other. For example, if you live in an entire house with just contemporary art, there is nothing for the contemporary art to contextualise itself with, or to talk to with. But how about putting the contemporary art next to a 16th century chair? These two things will resonate with each other while showing their backgrounds or history.”
That can be seen clearly in a corner of his home. On the wall, there is a photograph by George Platt Lynes, a fashion/surrealism photographer, and a sculpture by Mo Jupp in the foreground, on the top of a piece of furniture. On the right side of it, sits a royal blue vase reminiscent of the British royal family holding pale pink flowers. The historical background of these items are different and it looks as if they are displayed without any context. But if you look closely, there is a perfect balance with some sort of unifying feeling, which, if one of them were missing, would make it become ‘incomplete.’ That is ‘a new context’ that Jonathan created with a ‘dialogue.’
This idea of ‘dialogue’ is an approach, which was used in a catalogue of Disobedient Bodies, an exhibition held at a museum in England in 2017, and the exhibition title can literally mean a ‘dialogue.’ Jonathan likes to create new contexts through dialogue between different items. It might be an abstract analysis, but the approach of combining seemingly unalike things may be similar to that of which a surrealism artist would use.
This ‘dialogue’ approach seems to also be applicable outside of his living space. He once said that “a job of creative director is something similar to creating a gigantic patchwork by examining information.” Putting lopsided things together to create a context is probably not only a visual concept but also the core idea that supports his creativity. When you look back at his career, Jonathan has collaborated with various artists. As a recent example, many of you may remember the LOEWE x Totoro collaboration. A Japanese anime character and an established fashion house seems mismatched, but it was impressively incorporated into ‘fashion’ through Jonathan’s filter. For him, collaborating with other artists might be a process in creating a ‘dialogue.’
Whether for art or for work, I am sure that Jonathan combines different items or puts lopsided things together unconsciously, which is his abiding value. I wonder if this notion was cultivated through his double lifestyle as a LOEWE designer in Paris and as a designer for JW Anderson in London. But, it may also come from his background growing up in England as an Irish man, he analysed himself.
This is a small digression, but in this interview he never used the word ‘coordinate.’ He replaced this most frequently used word in fashion industry with alternative words, such as ‘talk’ or ‘communicate.’ I have the impression that it’s as if he sees ‘life’ in every piece of work.
While enriching his life by the idea of creating a new story through curating art, Jonathan Anderson incorporates this process into his creative work. However, he calls himself a ‘lazy dresser.’
‘Lazy dresser’ means somebody who doesn’t care about what to wear so much. “When I was at university, I loved clothing. I would wear quite experimental clothing. But since I started working in the fashion industry, my wardrobe became very basic and I come to think that just having a nice knit sweater and a pair of corduroys or jeans is enough. Because I desire clothing on a daily basis in order to create it, I find it very difficult to desire clothing for myself, and I don’t like making decisions in the morning,” says Anderson. On the contrary to his home, which is well decorated, his fashion style is very minimalistic.
Being asked who embodies chic, he replied; “I used to work for this amazing woman, Manuela Pavesi. She was the visual communications director for Prada. There was a kind of effortlessness to her style and it was natural. She knew how to mix old and new clothing together in a way that felt seamless. She had confidence and a natural air. Ultimately, you have to have confidence to be able to commit to a look. I think mostly in the end, style comes from confidence.”
He also mentioned about the queen. “I think, the idea of wearing the 50’s monochrome style, which coordinates the whole body in one colour, is incredibly rare today, because it’s very old fashioned. But the queen has been doing that with her own element of style for decades. It nearly becomes modern somehow, a sophisticated style that symbolises the queen.” Wearing clothing doesn’t mean dressing up superficially, but having our own style that feels authentic. This attitude and way of living will embody how you actually look.
“Fashion is work and art is something personal,” says Jonathan. So, for him art is something that naturally exists. On the premise of not only looking at art and fashion superficially but also understanding its background deeply, he curates things to create a ‘dialogue.’ I assume, this philosophical process embodies his everyday ‘chic’ and his creation, as well as forms the basis for his lifestyle of ‘daily chic.’