Seven Questions with architect John Pawson
Photography Gilbert McCarragher
John Pawson’s architecture might be minimal but it is never cold. And when he recently decided he needed some blankets to take the chill off his family home in the Oxfordshire countryside, he thought about them not just in terms of warmth and material but with place and purpose in mind.To achieve this subtle interaction, he worked with Tekla Fabrics, a young Copenhagen-based company with a mutual respect for provenance, quality and elegance built into the core of their products. Here, Pawson gives an insight into the relationship between space, light and material – and how a blanket can make all the difference.
Tell us about Home Farm. What attracted you to it in the first place?
Home Farm is located in a hamlet in the Cotswolds. It was previously a working farm and when I first visited, I felt the atmosphere of the dilapidated historic structures very deeply and the way the surrounding landscape unfolds in a series of ripples to the horizon. I was immediately drawn to the sequence and massing of the buildings, which is characterised as a ‘disordered farmyard’ in the vernacular handbook.
What were the key elements you wanted to preserve and how have you done that?
Everything I have done there has been driven by the idea of preserving and enhancing the sense of place, so I’ve worked with as light a hand as possible.
Why did you want to make a collection of blankets inspired by the house?
I like to design things in response to a specific context and need. In this instance the circumstances were very personal. The blankets are very much a consequence of the immersive intensity of the architectural process.
What are the key elements you have used and how are they reflected in the tones and patterns of the blankets?
All of the patterns and tones originate in Home Farm. Each design captures a specific moment of graphic interaction between architectural space and light. I wanted to create a series of textiles that is both rigorously abstract and resonantly site specific.
Why did you choose Tekla to collaborate with?
Charlie is a good friend of my elder son, Caius. I instinctively knew when I met him that here was someone who shared my commitment to making a project the best version of itself. I enjoy working with young companies like Tekla, because the passion is strong and the thinking is open.
What qualities did you want the blankets to have? How important was the sourcing of the materials and their provenance?
I wanted the blankets to be simple, but sensuous – equally pleasing to the hand as to the eye. The provenance of materials is always a priority for me.
How do the blankets work in the space and how do they make you feel?
I love the way that they add colour and pattern without disrupting the calm simplicity of the visual field, because the designs have emerged from the spaces, rather than being imposed on them.