John Pawson

Back in 2011, Living Architecture invited British architect and writer John Pawson to create a "timeless house of simplicity and beauty" in conjunction with the philosopher Alain de Botton.

With over thirty years experience and renowned for his minimal aesthetic, Pawson created The Life House. A simple yet luxurious retreat set amongst the rolling hills of the Welsh countryside. A place of calm, serenity and restoration, beautifully showcasing the philosophy of space. 

We caught up with the inspirational designer to ask what influenced the five year project and who he'd invite over for dinner at The Life House... 

What is your favourite aspect of the Life House?

For me it’s about feeling a connection with the wild and beautiful countryside that surrounds the house. When I’m there, I’m happy to sit for hours, watching the way the shifting clouds change the way the light plays across the different layers of the landscape.

What were your main influences when designing it?

I looked at various local vernacular building styles, but in the end, the form of the house grew out of ideas about how groups of people would want to spend time in a place, gathering together at certain points in the day and retreating into more private spaces at others.

You’re renowned for your minimalist aesthetic – how live-able is this style of design? 

I make architecture for the way I want to live. When I sit down to design, I’m not thinking about a particular style, it’s all about making spaces that feel comfortable to use and occupy.

Home is…?

Wherever my wife Catherine and my children are.

What’s your favourite room in your own home?

Everything happens in the kitchen.

If you could design anyone’s home, whose would it be?

I think this is an opportunity I was fortunate came my way a number of years ago, when I was asked by a community of Cistercian monks to design a new monastery for them in the Czech Republic. A monastery is many things  – church, school,  hospital,  workplace, farm – but it is primarily a home.

If you could be locked in any building overnight, which would you choose?

St Paul’s Cathedral.

What did you want to be growing up?

I wanted to be an architect, but I thought you had to be good at maths, so I didn’t think it was a realistic possibility.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

The Japanese designer, Shiro Kuramata, told me that design is a serious business and you have to keep going until you’ve cracked it.

What is your guilty pleasure?

The occasional glass of Chateau Yquem and no distractions.

You get to choose six people – dead or alive – to have dinner with at the Life House. Who? And Why?

There are people I would be fascinated to have join me round a table – Mies van der Rohe, whom I never met; Shiro Kuramata, with whom I was lucky enough to spend time, but who sadly died relatively young – but in the end I would always choose to gather my family.

What’s the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I have four older sisters.

John Pawson is a writer and architect who designed The Life House, for your chance to win a four night stay enter our competition here!