Who is John Pawson giving his book to this Christmas?

The architect and author reveals his 2018 highs and lows and which lucky baby will be getting a great gift
John Pawson - photographed by Orla Connolly
John Pawson - photographed by Orla Connolly

For someone so closely associated with a monochromatic colour palette, John Pawson leads a pretty colourful life. The architect, designer and Phaidon author has travelled from Novy Dvur in the Czech Republic to Kyoto in Japan, as well as plenty of points inbetween this year, creating beautifully pared-down buildings, shooting marvellously well composed photographs and sharing his viewpoints on the exquisite, but often overlooked details in the modern world.

His book and accompanying exhibition, Spectrum, arranged a selection of his photography into colour order, with ancient white plaster giving way to red tiles, green zincs, blue skies, and black nights. It is a powerful and yes, beautiful, visual presentation, but it also offers unrivalled insight into the working practices of one of architecture’s greatest talents. Read on to find out how 2018 was for him, and who he plans to give his book to this Christmas.


A spread from Spectrum by John Pawson

What inspired you most? I have just returned from Japan. There are places I try to visit each time I am in Kyoto and one of these is the Doujinsai tearoom in the fifteenth century Tougudou building at Ginkakuji. Based on the proportions of four-and-a-half tatami mats, its composition is apparently simple, but every detail is considered and refined. It is one of those rare places where the quality of light, atmosphere and surface are all perfect. 

What annoyed you most? This has been a year filled with troubling world events, so I have made a conscious effort to try not to be annoyed by the small stuff.

What was your personal highlight? Becoming a grandfather for the first time.


A spread from Spectrum by John Pawson

What can we expect from you in 2019? One of the projects that will finish in 2019 is the guest chapel at the Monastery of Novy Dvur in the Czech Republic, a decade-and-a-half after the completion of the monastic church and cloister was marked by a ceremony of consecration. These long-term relationships in architecture are very special.

Another important waypoint in the year will be a new book about my work, scheduled for publication by Phaidon, next autumn.

Who will you give your latest Phaidon book to for Christmas? I have been thinking that I should set aside a copy of each of my books, ready to hand over to my grandson in the future. Some of the early publications are long out of print, so it will be a bit of an endeavour, but it would be nice to put together a complete collection. When the first member of a new generation arrives, it inevitably brings questions of legacy into sharper focus.


Spectrum by John Pawson

To sample an overview of John Pawson's world buy a copy of Spectrum - featuring 320 of his personal photos taken around the world, and arranged by colour.

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Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
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