Martin Leuthold, 1952
Creative Director, Jakob Schlaepfer Textiles, St. Gallen
By awarding him with the Grand Prix Design, the Swiss Confederation recognizes Martin Leuthold as a key figure of the Swiss textile industry who successfully combines innovative vigour, the promotion of new talent and international standing.
The renowned fabric designer Martin Leuthold has been working in the textile industry of St. Gallen for 44 years. In his role as creative director he has brought international fame to the Jakob Schlaepfer company in the fields of haute couture, ready-to-wear and interior decoration. His fabrics and embroidery creations are in great demand throughout the world and are used by illustrious fashion houses such as Akris, Christian Dior, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton and Vivienne Westwood.
The global success of Martin Leuthold is intimately linked to the history of textiles and embroidery in Eastern Switzerland in which he is deeply rooted. Through his dedication to this invaluable, 800-year-old tradition, he has been able to modernize its values and translate them into today’s 'Zeitgeist'.
Across the ages, fashion has invariably been concerned with new ways of defining oneself, with identifying societal trends and with expressing the latest tendencies. The digital era demands an altogether new approach. Through his instrumental role in the development of new technologies, Leuthold is regarded as a continual innovator. His fabrics that combine high technology with aesthetic appeal make him a trendsetter in the textile industry. He designs some 1,000 fabrics each year, which are produced using laser technology, inkjet printing, 3D, luminescent materials and metal and foam elements. Martin Leuthold received the Design Preis Schweiz for his ultrafine polyester fabric, which he coats with aluminium, copper or bronze, and prints on one side with delicate digital floral patterns.
In addition to producing fabrics for the fashion industry, Leuthold also develops textiles for interior decoration, including exclusive wallpapers and curtain fabrics. In collaboration with machine manufacturers, Martin Leuthold is developing sophisticated technologies that enable materials and wallpapers to be vacuum-coated with wafer-thin metal, silver or gold.
Not every product in his wide-ranging collection of fabrics is produced by machine however. Industrial handicraft represents an integral part of the production process that is firmly grounded in tradition, and is what makes these products so unique and inimitable.
Martin Leuthold found the perfect conditions for implementing his vision at Jakob Schlaepfer, with which he has been associated since 1973. The company is deeply committed to innovation and promoting young talent. Martin Leuthold provides aspiring textile and fashion designers with ideal, laboratory-like conditions and is greatly valued in the industry as an outstanding mentor and promoter of young talent.
Leuthold has also made a name for himself in the cultural realm as a curator of textile exhibitions, such as 'BlingBling' at the Landesmuseum in Zurich (2004) and 'StGall – the Story of Lace' in St Gallen (2011). And he has also served as costume designer and scenographer at the Origen Festival of Culture in the Grisons