A Visual Inventory

I find great inspiration in the work of architect John Pawson. His design reflects a refined simplicity and communicates essence of space. So, it is no surprise that his new book by Phadion titled  A Visual Inventory is a thing of beauty. Filled with images Mr. Pawson took himself, presenting vignettes that have resonated within. I am grateful for a glimpse into this personal collection he has so generously shared. Whether something tangible like the shape of a stair, or experiential like the quality of light passing through a window, somehow he has captured these qualities for all of us to share. These pages descibe visually his studies of form, light, scale and texture which he masterfully executes in his own work.

Photography and documentation of environment is very much a part of Mr. Pawson’s process. Watch this beautiful video of John’s process, which follows him on his journey of photography where he finds beauty and inpiration on his travels in everyday life.

“You can see beauty in very small things and in very strange places – my photographs are a reflection of what’s inside this very messy brain.” John Pawson is not the kind of person one would expect to have a messy anything. It’s been said before but his beautifully structured, meticulously thought out and precisely executed buildings are a testament to the very idea of minimalism. What you perhaps didn’t know is that as well as being a master architect he’s also a voracious taker of photographs and is rarely without a camera.

He photographs to record the day, what he sees and what he is inspired by. Since acquiring his first digital camera he has amassed almost a quarter of a million images – a record, he says, of a peripatetic life. Now, he’s scrupulously edited down those images to just 272 for A Visual Inventory – a book that gives a unique insight into his curiosity, thoughtfulness and particular way of viewing the world around him.”

Images and excerpts sourced at Phaidon.

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John Pawson


"The father of modern architectural minimalism."
 The New York Times



John Pawson is one of my favorite designers.  There is such clarity in the simplicity of his work. It is a study in light, proportion, view and material.  Every architectural moment is considered, and the experience offered deliberate. I find his residential projects to be some of the most compelling.  It is these spaces which are often the most difficult to keep without clutter and visual distraction.  


John Pawson's  work creates tranquility through absence.  That is not to say spaces are without function. Everything necessary has a space.  Everything else, has no place.  Mr. Pawson designs spaces, buildings and objects with the same application of process, defined by their function. There is keen attention to the details of everyday life and human experience.


John Pawson currently has an exhibition at the  Design Museum of London.  The exhibit titled Plain Space, celebrates Pawson's career to date with models, film, photographs and architectural elements and includes some of his most important projects including the Cistercian Monastery of Our Lady of Nový Dvůr in the Czech Republic, the Sackler Crossing at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Calvin Klein store on Madison Avenue, New York.  Coinciding with the opening of the exhibition, Phaidon Press has published a stunning monograph titled Plain Space.  
I would love to fly off to London to experience this exhibit first hand.  But alas, I will not.  I am confident the new book will offer plenty of design inspiration, and I will keep my fingers crossed that the exhibit will make its way to the states.  If you have seen the exhibit in London, I would love to hear your thoughts!


To explore the work of John Pawson, visit his website http://www.johnpawson.com.


All images courtesy of www.johnpawson.com and www.designmuseum.org

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