• Words Emma Moore
  • Photos Alixe Lay

From the king of minimalism: “I find the essential and get the design down to a point where you can’t add or subtract from it.”

Issue 51

, Design

  • Words Emma Moore
  • Photos Alixe Lay

JOHN PAWSON pioneered an approach to architecture that has been variously celebrated, vilified and imitated—all without ever having qualified as an architect. Here the design icon reflects on four decades spent in the perpetual pursuit of less.

By reputation, John Pawson defines minimalism, but it’s not a term he chooses to use. Minimum, however, the title of his 1996 book on the subject, is definitely in his lexicon. For Pawson, it describes the quality of an object or space when it is no longer possible to improve it by subtraction. It is, he will tell you, the foundation of his practice.

Disciplined and neutral, his style speaks of his Yorkshire Methodist roots and a desire to challenge conformism, though his wry sense of humor has also played its part. In his 20s, after working...


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