John Pawson - Set design
Chroma; photo Johan Persson
John Pawson was born in 1949 in Halifax, Yorkshire. After a period in the family textile business he left for Japan, where he visited the studio of Japanese architect and designer Shiro Kuramata. Following his return to England, he enrolled at the Architecture Association in London, leaving to establish his own practice in 1981.
From the outset the work focused on ways of approaching fundamental problems of space, proportion, light and materials, themes he also explored in his book Minimum, first published in 1996.
Early commissions included homes for the writer Bruce Chatwin, opera director Pierre Audi, contemporary art dealer Hester van Royen and collector Doris Lockhart Saatchi, together with art galleries in London, Dublin and New York. Subsequent projects have spanned a wide range of scales and building typologies, from Calvin Klein's flagship store in Manhattan and airport lounges for Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong to the new Cistercian monastery of Our Lady of Novy Dvur in Bohemia.
In May 2006, two decades of visits to the twelfth century Cistercian monastery of Le Thoronet culminated in an exhibition, 'John Pawson: Leçons du Thoronet', the first such intervention ever to be held within the precincts of the abbey. Two weeks after the exhibition opening in Provence, celebrations in London marked the completion of the Sackler Crossing - a walkway over the lake at Kew's Royal Botanic Gardens.
The same year also marked the practice's first stage design, with a set for Chroma, choreographed by Wayne McGregor for the Royal Ballet which premiered at London's Royal Opera House in November 2006.