Observation and Design

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John Pawson Plain Space Architecture Exhibition @ The Design Museum

March 26th, 2011 @ 11:38 BST by Richard Stowey

John Pawson Plain Space Exhibition at the Design Museum

Donald Judd describes John Pawson’s work as ‘The simple expression of complex thought’. The exhibition on Pawson’s work at the Design Museum, which ended recently, shows a great overview of his design approach and methodology to architectural practice.

In order to understand some of the complex thought which goes into his projects, there is the global methodology of the architect and then the attention to detail which is given to each project.

‘The state of minimum is not one of austerity nor deprivation. It is clarity of space’. - John Pawson

This quote explains his overall approach to minimalist design. Concentrating on the pure form, importance of space and the use of a lot of white paint.

Some of the attention to detail explained by the exhibition and especially within the Monstary project was quite interesting. One of the Monks’ specific requests were to have no individual lighting within the dormatory, but general lighting only. And a certain section of the dormatory was required to be specifically set aside for those who snored!

John Pawson Plain Space Exhibition at the Design Museum

The level of detail within the requirements on this project was fascinating. Sound levels and materials, light and other things you don’t think about during the course of everyday life.

This project, the requirements, the final piece and the models which were created along the way gave a great insight into how Pawson’s architectural methodology allowed them to explore creating the best use of space, and the models really helped to show how much consideration went into the physical art form of the buildings.

John Pawson’s starting point for every project is a minute and detailed examination of its context. He explores landscapes… in order to trigger ideas. He looks for ways of making the most of the light conditions. - Words from Design Museum on Landscape and Material

A full understanding of the context and the requirements, knowledge about the materials used and an understanding of how to use space are just some of the qualities shown within the exhibition, which should be understood by all architects. Indeed, this could even be applied to any form of art and design. Understand what you are doing, how you’re going to do it including the materials you are going to use, and then produce something with meaning in the right context.

If you do get to check out any of John Pawson’s work in the future, take a look. It’s totally worth it.

A couple of photos below show the level of detail which is communicated in John Pawson’s models.

John Pawson Plain Space Exhibition at the Design Museum

John Pawson Plain Space Exhibition at the Design Museum

John Pawson Plain Space Exhibition at the Design Museum

John Pawson Plain Space Exhibition at the Design Museum

More photos from John Pawson Plain Space.