John Pawson's World of Colour: Brown
From African graffiti to an Austrian ski town, Pawson finds beauty and playfulness even at this point in the spectrum
Some of us are old enough to remember how, back in the 1990s, brown was hailed as “the new black”. Today beige is a synonym for conformity - nowhere near as exciting as say, greige. (and we say that with tongue planted firmly in cheek). However, anyone looking for liveliness and variety in this part of the visual spectrum should turn to Spectrum, our new book by John Pawson.
Though better known as one of Britain's best architects, Pawson is also a talented, astute photographer, who shoots sharp, simple images, both as a professional aide memoire and for pleasure.
Spectrum is a multi-coloured collection, featuring 320 of John’s shots arranged in colour order. It’s a great book for architects, or indeed anyone interested in building design and refurbishment. Many of the images were taken at a “disordered farmyard” that Pawson has been renovating.
“When I first visited the site, exteriors and interiors, as well as the landscape, were dominated by an infinity of browns and greens,” Pawson recalls in the book’s introduction, “not least because of the way the outside world had infiltrated and colonized so many of the surfaces, layering verdant mosses, vivid flashes of yellow lichen and brackish blooms of damp onto mellow timber, stone and lime plaster.”
In later images you can catch glimpses of the same building taking on quite different colour characteristics, as Pawson reworks the architecture.
But it’s also a pleasurable book for well-travelled readers, and those interested in photography and other visual arts. There are glimpses of John’s trips to Morocco, Arizona and Austria, where lowly browns mix with sky blues, chalk whites and icy greys.
None of the shots conform to a norm. Even in the earthier tones, Pawson’s photographs stand out.
Keen to see more? You can take a look at some of John’s blue shots here; some of his violet shots here; and some of his yellow shots here; if you like what you see, you can order a copy of Spectrum here. Check back for another colour from the book soon.