The wise and relaxed conversation between John Allen and journalist Anatxu Zabalbeascoa -leading the LOEWE Talks titled A bag is a landscape– inundated recently the emblematic LOEWE store in Gran Vía, Madrid, and the Galería LOEWE in Barcelona. Using the patterns previously created by British knitter and master weaver John Allen, Jonathan Anderson -LOEWE’s Creative Director- has designed a new collection. Allen’s flat drawings -created to be hung on the walls, as carpets- have developed into accessories. “I couldn’t imagine my designs as three-dimmensional objects”, said Allen. Besides beach towels and totes, Allen’s colours have reached wallets, key-rings or espadrilles. The John Allen Collection, with British landscapes drifting towards abstraction, reveal the understanding between Allen and Anderson. “We trusted each other”, explains Allen. “It was like giving him my baby”.
Designer, craftsman, weaver… Allen does not care what other people call him. “I see myself as an artist, but that could seem very pretentious. I generate ideas for others”, he insists with remarkable humbleness. Moreover, he gets inspired “from everything” but his main creative source is colour. “Colours make me emotional, it´s about pushing boundaries”, he says. But as an artistic tool, explains Allen, “colour cannot be taught, we cannot learn to enjoy colours”. Allen has taught at the Royal College of Art, whose knitting department he also founded, until his retirement in 1989.
John Allen is an expert in reinventing himself, and he admits to keep certain “freshness” towards his work, perhaps emphasised by “having been working with younger people for so long”. “People never chase, never move on”, he complains. “I am somebody whose attitude has changed over the years. I am a man of the future”. When Zabalbeascoa asked him how we will perceive this collection in the next years, Allen was lost in thought, as if thinking ahead. Then he smiled and said: “I think it will age quite well”. Among all his works, Falling Leaves is “my favourite design I have ever done”. That’s why he carries his bag everywhere, because -he laughs- everytime somebody stops and says, ‘Oh! Where is that great bag from?’”.
Photographs: Cornish Harbour beach towel and canvas Falling Leaves duffle, John Allen Collection Spring Summer 2015 © LOEWE, 2015. LOEWE Talks A bag is a landscape with John Allen and Anatxu Zabalbeascoa at Galería LOEWE in Barcelona © Yolanda Muelas for LOEWE, 2015.