IN CONVERSATION WITH John Pawson
WonderGlass: Could you speak a little bit about the concept behind Horizon Light and Pendant Tube?
John Pawson: In my opinion when making architecture, small things make a big difference. And the interior of one’s place is obviously as important because that is where you spend your time. Light is the most important way to make architecture. There is no architecture without natural light and the same goes with electric light. So when we were designing these lights, especially Horizon Light, I wanted something that disappears in the day time, and does the opposite at night. Without the object itself being that important. The Pendant Tube is much more a pendant that is high up, that creates a different kind of atmosphere and is obviously designed for big spaces like churches.
WonderGlass: I’m curious, how did the St John’s Church in Hackney end up having you develop a lamp for them?
John Pawson: Interestingly enough, the director’s wife did an internship in our office while she was at University and then he contacted us. But we have done four or five churches now and two or three monastery. And we designed bits to go into them. I mean historically church architecture has been a real source of fantastic art throughout the centuries. And lights and candles are a big part of the decoration for a church.
WonderGlass: I don’t know if this is official, but Stefan told me that Horizon was designed for your beautiful country home. Was that the concept, that you designed it for your own usage?
John Pawson: Yes, everything we as a studio – or I – do, is really based on what I want personally. I tend to think of things that might go into my country house or my London home or, of course other people’s projects that we are doing, like the church. But they always have to be for a specific place and then we see if someone else wants them. I don’t design things to sell. I mean people sell them so that other people can have them, but I am not looking for my monthly income as a driving force.
WonderGlass: Is the material, in this case glass, something that is an integral part of the design concept? Because I guess working with different materials has different characteristics.
John Pawson: Glass, and crystal in particular, has this amazing reflective ability and way to sparkle. What is nice with Horizon Light is the ballotton technique and that it is translucent and opaque, which makes the light glow much more beautifully. The result is much better than I thought. And it is quite different from the thing I had on my desk, that I was trying to get Stefan to sort out. I had about three or four glass tubes within glass tubes but we couldn’t separate them, I couldn’t make them float.
WonderGlass: Yes he mentioned that there were several tubes originally. It is nice, when you see Horizon Light from the side, they are different from both profiles, one looks almost like a flower and the other one is flat and smoothly round.
John Pawson: Yes and as I said, the most important thing is that during the day, they are not obtrusive.
WonderGlass: Yes they are very beautiful and we get a lot of compliments for them. A lot of compliments.
John Pawson: (laughs) you can only say that.
WonderGlass: (laughs) no I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true. No, they are very nice and I also like that two of them are completely transparent and the third one is opaque, which is special.
John Pawson: Yes it is not that I want to control everything but small things change architecture and change the feeling of space and the atmosphere. And at home it is nice to have things that work in terms of visually and atmospheric view. And having these light fittings is really important for the overall uniqueness of our home.
Cover image courtesy of Sam Hoffman Studio.