John Pawson at London Design Museum

© Marco Zanta

This autumn, the Design Museum is presenting a major exhibition on John Pawson. Often labelled a ‘minimalist’, he is known for his rigorous process of design. By reducing and editing he creates architecture and product designs of visual clarity, simplicity and grace.

Marco Zanta shared with us some photographs of the exhibition you can visit until January 30, 2011.

© Marco Zanta

Plain Space celebrates Pawson’s career from the early 1980s to date and includes a selection of landmark commissions including the Sackler Crossing at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the new Cistercian Monastery of Our Lady of Novy Dvur in the Czech Republic and Calvin Klein’s iconic flagship store in New York, as well as current and future projects.

© Marco Zanta

At the heart of the exhibition is a site-specific, full-sized space designed by Pawson to offer a direct and immersive experience of his work. This is the first time the Design Museum has realised a 1:1 scale architectural installation inside the museum.

© Marco Zanta

Using a rich range of media the exhibition will explore projects from Pawson’s career. Specially commissioned, large-scale photography will look at his architecture in the landscape. Actual architectural elements in stone, bronze, wood and metal taken from a range of buildings including the Baron House in Sweden and Pawson’s own house in London will explore his sensitive use of materials. The process of design and construction will also be shown through photography, film, sketches, study models, prototypes and interviews relating to a number of projects including a private home in Treviso, Italy currently under construction. Personal items from the Pawson archive will also be on display including letters from Karl Lagerfeld and the writer Bruce Chatwin.

A new book, Plain Space, written by Alison Morris, will be published by Phaidon Press to coincide with the opening of the exhibition.

Cite: "John Pawson at London Design Museum" 25 Sep 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 18 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    desing with fewer elements is just logical. the problem is when it becomes just a matter of aesthetics and trends (pawson, adjaye, etc) When great architects aproach the essence of architecture and remove anything else, the result is fantastic and profound. Whe could talk about zumthor or siza

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Absolutely agree with your remark; as long as “fewer elements” is not the ultimate goal . I would add Chipperfield to your respective list.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Actually, minimalism as just the style is the fake… real minimalism has protestantism as the basis. You should live in minimal stile, than mininalism around you reflect you nature… The main goal of architecture is to organize our life in aestetical categores. You can organize it in more complicated way or simple way… More simple is the monimalism, which is really the way of life, not a style…

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      agree. but doubt very much that the essence of minimalism has protestant roots. it is much older than that. Pyramids are as essential as can be, and so is southern europe romanesque. or the more modern monastery “el escorial”, or those of the Cister order in France. The moorish Almohades imposed an style lack of any ornament in the middle ages, again, religious fundamentalist a in the case of the calvinists. Look some traditional greek houses, or mediterranean in general, or a norsk hut. Asplund wasn´t minimalist as such, but I can hardly remove anything from his desings without spoiling them.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    He’s not a minimalist. He’s a creator of monumental spaces. If something draws you to the work – it is something with maximum impact.

    Put yourself in a crowded place with loads of stuff coming at you, pick any metropolitan city, Tokyo, New York, London, Paris, Singapore, Taipei, Shanghai, Jakarta, Manila, Johannesburg, Sydney. Everything is trying to grab your attention… literally everything.

    Something with large and monumental that provides maximum impact will grab your attention. Anything miniscule and minute like trash or a grasshopper will be bypassed.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    minimalism is a challenge for those who pretend to materialize it.. pawson reached that sintesis in most of his proyects

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      yes. chipperfield is fantastic. But there´re many more. Zomthor and siza were just the first two coming to mi mind

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Silvestrin is a pure act of art to me. I love his absolutism. Yet as pure art most of his jobs have nothing to do with architecture, which by default must be practical at times :) Did you see his website, btw? (I didn’t like his Armani store in NY because it was more practical than his usual ultra minimalistic studio/lofts concept).
    Glad you mentioned him.
    Glad Ha agrees with my vision of Chipperfield.

    Speaking of Nietzsche:
    “The architect represents neither a Dionysian nor an Apollonian condition: here it is the mighty act of will, the will which moves mountains, the intoxication of the strong will, which demands artistic expression. The most powerful men have always inspired the architects; the architect has always been influenced by power.”

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    ok ‘tired’, if i may, you know what you’re talking about.. sounds like we could’ve enjoyed a cup of tea (nietzsche doesn’t promote coffee…) together and discuss all this further?.. all the best to you and your future endeavors..

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    to be honest don´t know his works deeply, and thus I won´t make the mistake of judge just by the visual. I will have to study his work!

    something that is constant in the minimal architects´s careers is the critisism based on pure visual matters. Sometimes they can look cool and be just hollow, or look to trendy and thus be judge as mere “decorators”. I think their work, however minimal, is deep and complex, and deserve more thorough study.

    What do you think about Alberto Campo Baeza? I studied under him and find him amazing. His recent work is a bit weaker but he is such a inspiring guy. He is not as well known as Chipperfield etc due to lack of many works. He forced himself not to build more than a building a year. that´s a rather honest attitude isn´t it?

Share your thoughts