Phaidon interviewed John Pawson, the famous minimalism architect on the occasion of the release of his new book ‘John Pawson: Plain Space’.
On the occasion of the release of John Pawson’s new book: John Pawson: Plain Space, which coincides with a major exhibition of the same name at the London Design Museum, the architect spoke to Phaidon.com about his approach to design and reflects on his career and the project of a lifetime.
John Pawson has spent over thirty years making rigorously simple architecture that speaks of the fundamentals but is also modest in character. His body of work spans a broad range of scales and typologies, from private houses, sacred commissions, galleries, museums, hotels, ballet sets, yacht interiors and a bridge across a lake.
As Alvar Aalto’s bronze door handle has been characterised as the ‘handshake of a building’, so a sense of engaging with the essence of a philosophy of space through everything the eye sees or the hand touches is a defining aspect of Pawson’s work. His method is to approach buildings and design commissions in precisely the same manner, on the basis that ‘it’s all architecture’.
Whether at the scale of a monastery, a house, a saucepan or a ballet, everything is traceable back to a consistent set of preoccupations with mass, volume, surface, proportion, junction, geometry, repetition, light and ritual. In this way, even something as modest as a fork can become a vehicle for much broader ideas about how we live and what we value.
About the book ‘John Pawson: Plain Space’:
John Pawson (b.1949) is an architect and designer whose exceptional work combines an essential simplicity with a keen attention to the details of everyday life and human experience. In the last decade, the scope of his designs has broadened from objects and interiors to include houses, monasteries, pavilions and boats. This change in scale has given his office the opportunity to refine its minimalist aesthetic and further develop its ideas of a fundamental architecture based on the qualities of space, proportion, light and materials. In Plain Space, author Alison Morris presents both this recent body of work and earlier projects from the perspective of someone who has had unique access to the work and archives of the office. In thematic essays and narrative project descriptions she examines the firm’s working processes, relationship with clients, and approach to design. Filled with exquisite photographs and detailed drawings, Plain Space will be the next must-have book for fans of John Pawson and a perfect introduction to his work for anyone interested in the absolute best of contemporary design.
“”Exquisite” is an adjective frequently applied to the work of John Pawson – and one that might equally be applied to this beautifully produced book.”—Kenneth Powell, House & Garden
“Beautiful, inspring.”—Time Out
You can buy the book here: