Just two years since our founder, Sir Terence Conran, was made a Companion of Honour in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to design, John Pawson, the architect behind the new Design Museum, has been honoured with a CBE.
Renowned for his stark minimalist aesthetic and perfectionist nature, John Pawson has designed sets for ballets at the Royal Opera House, a Cistercian Monastery in Bohemia, flagship stores for Calvin Klein and transformed a Second World War bunker in Berlin into a museum of Southeast Asian art and furniture.
Renowned across the globe, Pawson has even been honoured with a multitude of dedicated exhibitions, including Plain Space, a 2010 exhibition at the Design Museum, and a 2012 major one-man-show dedicated to him at the Pinakothek der Moderne in the Germany city of Munich. Exploring his entire body of work, the exhibition spanned thirty years and featured the largest collection of Pawson architectural models ever assembled as well as specially commissioned, large-scale photography.
Beginning his career working alongside the designer Shiro Kuramata at his studio in Japan, John Pawson developed a personal style based almost entirely on simplicity and focused on the use of space, proportion, light and materials rather than form.
Influenced by design traditions from both the east and the west, Pawson boasts a portfolio of buildings, churches and yachts across the globe. Pawson’s approach to design is driven by the belief that even something as modest as a fork can be interpreted as a piece of architecture, a stance he carried into his role as the architect of the new Design Museum.
Founded in 1989 by our founder, Sir Terence Conran, as a registered charity, the Design Museum was originally housed in a former banana warehouse on London’s Shad Thames. Creating an entire design district around it, it wasn’t until 2008 that the Design Museum found itself on the hunt for larger premises to showcase iconic design from.
In a move spearheaded by Sir Terence, the Design Museum found its new home in the form of a unique landmark from the 1960s. Nestled in London’s Holland Park at the heart of Kensington's cultural quarter, the building was transformed into a 21st-century museum by a specialist design team led by John Pawson.
Originally home to the Commonwealth Institute, the Grade II* listed building was originally designed by Scottish firm RMJM but had stood vacant for over a decade before Pawson and his team stepped in.
Showcasing an oak and pale grey terrazzo-lined atrium as soon as you enter, the building has been reinvigorated to become London’s new Design Museum. Boasting Pawson’s signature minimalist aesthetic, the building features all plain, unadorned aspects, crafted using a range of woods and finished with hard-to-reach white walls that help to maintain and enhance the building’s original features.