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Only the rich can afford this much nothing

Joshua Levine’s recent (WSJ Magazine) piece on John Pawson, — the architect who “elevated nothingness to an art” — is a good read.

It’s mostly about the country retreat that he recently completed for himself and his wife in the English countryside, but there’s also lots about his minimalist architecture, his career, his work with hotelier/developer Ian Schrager, and his passion for photography.

I like this bit about architectural simplicity. The great irony of minimalism, and the reason why brands such as Calvin Klein and Jil Sander began working with John Pawson to leverage his aesthetic, is that it’s often more difficult to do less. Getting the details right costs money. Hence this great line from the New Yorker:

As the New Yorker cartoon put it, “Only the rich can afford this much nothing.” Don’t expect a rebuttal from Pawson. “It is big, and it is expensive, you know. It’s sophisticated architectural simplicity. This isn’t a religious thing, and it isn’t as simple as you can go. You can go a lot simpler than this.”

I also like what the following says about labels and what it means to be defined as something:

Slowing down for Pawson isn’t all that slow. He takes photos constantly and has always used the camera as his third eye. In 2017, Phaidon published Spectrum, a book of his photos, many of them first posted on his Instagram (“I said, ‘Well, I’m not a photographer,’ and they said, ‘You are a photographer,’ so now I’m a photographer”).

Click here for the rest of the article from WSJ Magazine. And if you aren’t familiar with John Pawson, here is his minimal website.

Photo: Max Gleeson (Armonia Apartments designed by John Pawson)


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