Making room for space
Architect John Pawson has created an installation for the Design Museum as part of an exhibition celebrating his 30-year career.
Often described as a Minimalist, he is known for a rigorous process of design, creating architecture of simplicity and grace.
At the heart of the exhibition is a site-specific, full-sized installation designed by Pawson to offer a direct contact with his work - the first such installation at the museum.
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 Novy Dvur in the Czech Republic, the Sackler Crossing at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Calvin Klein store on Madison Avenue, New York.
Pawson said: "Deyan Sudjic, the Design Museum's director, and I had been talking about doing an exhibition of my work for some years.
"Architecture shows are challenging. When you experience architecture directly, it speaks for itself. The problem with an exhibition is that there is no actual architecture, so you have to find other mediums of communication.
"The wild idea did strike me at one point that the best thing to do would be to abandon the idea of a conventional exhibition altogether and use the money instead to take as many people as possible to visit the new Cistercian monastery I designed in Bohemia.
"One way I have tried to get round the problem in the Design Museum exhibition is to create an installation - a chance for people to experience Pawson space.
"Another is to commission a series of extremely large photographs of finished work in its setting - each photograph is composed of up to 72 separate images stitched together and will be printed at a dimension of 10 by 6ft."
The process of design and construction will also be shown through photography, film, sketches, study models, prototypes and interviews.
Personal items from the Pawson archive will also be on display including letters from Karl Lagerfeld and the writer Bruce Chatwin.
Pawson said: "If the work is distinctive, it's because I have worked very hard to keep true to the original vision, even though the scale and range of the commissions have shifted dramatically since I started."
A new book, John Pawson: Plain Space, written by Alison Morris, will be published by Phaidon Press to coincide with the exhibition.
Pawson said: "The book is by a writer who has been part of my office for the last decade, working alongside the architects, visiting the sites and talking to clients. It's very much her view on the recent work. She looks at the processes and narratives behind the individual projects, as well as reflecting on the themes running through all the work, like the importance of atmosphere and the role of photography as a design tool.
"The book's title comes from a quotation by the 18th century landscape gardener and poet, William Shenstone - 'I think a plain space near the eye gives it a kind of liberty it loves'."
Plain Space, Design Museum, September 22-January 30 2011, £8.50 (£6.50), Tube: London Bridge or Tower Hill, DLR: Tower Gateway