⟨ Misc ⟩

A Successful Failure

Takuro Kuwata for LOEWE

Words / Elva Pang
Translation / Fanny Chan

2013年時,日本陶藝家桑田卓郎於紐約舉行了首個個人展覽《Flavor of Nature》,他從大自然裡取材,以日常生活為靈感,創作出來的卻是一個個色彩鮮艷,猶如外太空生物般形狀怪異又充滿趣味的作品。他把淘泥捏成茶杯形狀,加上粉紅、鮮黃或天藍色,以及破裂細節、金色的飾片等,看似隨意又充滿解構主義,讓人好奇桑田在創作時,腦子裡是在想些甚麼呢。「工作室的地下是我創作的地方,一樓則放置了一些失敗或是我不太確認的作品。長年累月下,這些作品已經堆滿了整個空間,每當我走到這裡時,就好像開啟了過去的大門,讓我回想起做某些作品時,腦海裡在想甚麼。」桑田卓郎說,很多時候,他只能一直地創作,他無法預期成品的模樣,有時候成功,有時候失敗,但他一直很享受過程中期待成品的心情。

桑田卓郎曾獲得LOEWE基金會頒發工藝獎2018中的「特別獎」,他更參與了LOEWE今年秋冬系列的創作,讓他的陶藝作品與時裝來一場對話。「LOEWE融合了時裝、藝術和工藝的元素,我被他們正在做的東西所啟發,所以我很榮幸他們對我有興趣,以及有機會參與品牌系列的創作。在創作的過程中,和我平常做的沒有很大的分別,在每一個步驟之間,由揉捏陶泥到焙燒,我會加入一些新的觀點,這樣使我去做一些與平常不同的選擇。一開始時,實用不在我考慮之列,但如果是袋子的話,便要考慮到它的表面,這影響著我設計的過程。因此,我最後能創作出一些比較生活化的東西。」

正因為桑田的作品擁有一種不確定性,才能不斷地帶來驚喜。他的作品富當代藝術的色彩,與傳統的陶藝表現形式存在著矛盾,每一件作品都有強烈的個人色彩。他為LOEWE設計的不只是單純的裝飾,更是為系列加上不同的層次,例如在衣服上的陶件製造出打摺的效果,營造蓬鬆感,穿起來更立體飄逸。陶件上的不規則金色圓形,有點像草間彌生最喜歡畫的圓,起伏不定的圓形與布料上的金色幾何圖案互相呼應,相比衣服,它更像一件會移動的藝術品。另外,他把不規則形狀瓶身,加上長滿金色的狼牙裝飾,放在LOEWE標誌性的手袋Flamenco上的繫繩兩端,代替了原有的流蘇或繩結,粗糙的瓶身與光滑的狼牙裝飾形成對比;而厚重的陶器又與柔軟的皮革袋身造成另一種對比,把八十年代流行一時的Flamenco帶來全新面貌,好像是桑田與LOEWE幽默而有趣的對話。

雖然桑田卓郎說他「失敗的作品」堆滿了一樓的工作室,但事實上,這裡並沒有所謂的成功與失敗,只要放在對的位置、遇上對的人,便是成功的作品了。

In 2013, Japanese ceramist Takuro Kuwata held his first solo exhibition Flavor of Nature in New York. Inspired by everyday life, Kuwata used materials from nature to create colorful and interesting pieces that look like strange creatures from outer space. Some of his works are pinched to look like teacups; they are in vibrant colors such as hot pink, bright yellow or sky blue, and decorated with cracked patterns and golden ornaments. These seemingly random yet complicated works introduce the notion of deconstruction, and they spark curiosity people wonder, what’s on Kuwata’s mind. “The ground floor of my studio is where I create, and on the first floor, there are pieces that I consider nonsuccesses or that I am just not sure about. Over the years, these works have filled the entire space. Whenever I walk over here, it’s like the door to the past is opened. I am reminded of what was on my mind when I created these works,” said Kuwata. At times, he couldn’t anticipate how the finished products would look. All he could do was focus on the process of creation. Whether a success or failure, Kuwata enjoys the unique feeling of anticipation for the finished product.

Kuwata received the Jury’s special mention at the 2018’s Loewe Foundation Craft Prize. This year, he teamed up with Loewe to help create their Fall Winter 2020 collection; creating a dialogue between pottery and fashion. “LOEWE embraces the elements of fashion, art, and craftsmanship. I am inspired by what they are doing. I am honored that they are interested in collaborating with me and that they gave me the opportunity to participate in their collection. Comparing my own creation with the Loewe collaboration, there are no major differences in terms of the process of creation; It’s the same as what I normally do. Nevertheless, from kneading to firing, I’ve added some new ideas to the process, and by that, I have to make some choices that I wouldn’t normally make. At the beginning, I didn’t care about practicality. Yet when it comes to bags, I have to take into consideration the bags’ material; that affects my design. In the end, I created some things that are more day-to-day.”

Because of the uncertainty, Kuwata manages to keep introducing surprises to his audience. His works have a strong personal touch and are equipped with a contemporary style which is contradictory to the traditional forms of ceramic art. His pieces are not merely decorations on Loewe’s designs, they add a different meaning to the entire collection. For example, the ceramic pieces on the garment create folds and creases that give the design a more fluffy, three-dimensional and elegant look. The irregular gold circles look a bit like the drawings by Yayoi Kusama; the undulating circles and gold geometric patterns complement each other. Instead of calling them clothes, the collaborated works of Kuwata and Loewe are more like moving pieces of art.

For Loewe’s most iconic handbag, Flamenco, Kuwata replaced the signature tassels and knots with ceramic ornaments shaped like irregular bottles decorated with golden spikes. While the roughness of the ceramic bottle contradicts with the smoothness of the golden spikes, the heaviness of ceramic and softness of leather creates yet another interesting contrast that can easily capture attention. The exchange and collaboration between Kuwata and Loewe gives Flamenco, which was popular in the 1980s, a brand-new look. 

Although Kuwada said that his “nonsuccess works” filled up the floor of his studio, there are in fact no things called “success” and “nonsuccess”; as long as the work is placed in the right time and space and encounters the right people, then it is a piece of successful work.