House & Garden | Diary of a Somebody

John Pawson

The architect on the beginning of a gym regime, and the end of an exhibition

John Pawson

January 14 2011
John Pawson

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

I woke in the dark again and Catherine dragged me to a gym – a newish experience for me – promising a bevy of actresses and models. There are lots of exhortations to keep going to the top and race down, but of course the bike isn’t going anywhere. Gerri Gallagher from Tatler was there and didn’t initially recognise me. She worries that my svelte shape is down to stress.

The Wallpaper do was in a building nicely re-done by David Adjaye. Harry Handelsman, the owner, was effusive but assumed I would have competitive issues with other architects. I explained that the competition is always with myself. He introduced me to the artist Cindy Sherman, looking shy out of disguise, but sounding very sharp.

Brother Jakob is in the office today to discuss our work on the monastery of Pannonhalma in Hungary. He is travelling by bus and staying in Ealing with fellow Benedictines. We discuss the complexities of dealing simultaneously with a number of heritage bodies, all advising on the historic fabric of the church. It’s good practice for the work that lies ahead in creating a new permanent home for the Design Museum in the former Commonwealth Institute in London. Brother Jakob is keen to see our exhibition at the current Design Museum, but wants to stop off at St Paul’s. I am not sure I can cope with that sort of competition.

It seems impossible that the exhibition will close in just 15 more days. It feels no time ago we were agonising over what to include and how. I was initially reluctant when Deyan Sudjic, the museum’s director and one of the exhibition’s joint curators, raised the possibility of a show, but I’m very glad now that he persuaded me. Quite apart from anything else, the whole process of stepping back and taking stock helps the work.

A client rings up from Italy wanting to discuss details of some of the furniture we are doing for him. The project architect is on paternity leave, following the birth of his second son – for some reason our office only seems to produce boys.

Meantime, Plain Space, an insider’s view of the work and the process, written by Alison Morris, is finally back in the warehouse after reprinting, having sold out almost immediately. Phaidon, the publisher, is delighted. Apparently it’s very rare for an architectural monograph to sell so well, but my feeling is that they should have printed more copies to begin with. I am definitely someone for whom the cup is always half empty.

See also