The dining table, in Douglas Classic, from the Pawson Furniture Collection for Dinesen.
Photo: Claus Troelsgaard

John Pawson’s Latest Furniture Collection Explores the Poetry of Wood

The British architectural designer’s bespoke new line with Dinesen is a high point of their 30-year collaboration

The Daybed, in Douglas Classic, from the Pawson Furniture Collection. Photo: Claus Troelsgaard

Renowned architectural designer John Pawson has teamed up with Dinesen, Denmark’s leading manufacturer of exclusive wood flooring, to launch a new minimalist furniture line. The Pawson Furniture Collection is a new high point in their three-decade-long relationship, which includes previous collaborations on private homes, museums, stores, exhibitions, chapels, and furniture. “I think it’s all architecture,” says Pawson. “For me, whether I’m designing a table or a building or a teapot, it’s all the same, but I think it’s very important the distinction between art and architecture.”

Set to be unveiled to the public during the upcoming 3daysofdesign festival in Copenhagen, the bespoke collection contains the Dining Series, which encompasses a table, bench, and stool, a design that Pawson drew back in 1992 but updated with a shadow gap detail. The top and legs of the new dining table are created from two boards, with the gap expressed in a different variety of timber—for example, combining Douglas fir and oak. Stools and benches are made from a single Douglas fir board, with a solid central spine.

A complementary new addition is the Lounge Collection, made from solid Douglas fir, which includes a lounge chair, lounge table, sofa, and daybed. Each piece is made to order, and the desired textile can be chosen from the Kvadrat upholstery library. The collection uses planks in the same dimension as the floorboards themselves, leading to the appearance as if they were lifted directly out of the floor.

Hans Peter Dinesen and John Pawson at Pawson’s Home Farm in the UK. Photo: Claus Troelsgaard

For the unveiling during the 3daysofdesign, which kicks off on June 12, Pawson redesigned part of the Dinesen showroom into a model apartment, where visitors can experience the furniture almost as if they would see it at his bucolic Home Farm compound in Oxfordshire, England.

Long before his relationship with Dinesen, Pawson always had a distinct love of Danish design and architecture. His minimalist style found another defining moment when he spent several months in Japan as a young student and had chance to meet Shiro Kuramata, one of the most important Japanese furniture and interiors designers of the 20th century.

Donald Judd and his work in Marfa, Texas, inspired his work as well. (Pawson’s oldest son’s mother was Judd’s dealer, and he got to meet him: “He’s quite shy,” remembers Pawson.) Both Pawson and Judd created their original furniture initially for personal use in their homes. “It’s easier for me if I designed thinking of myself,” explains Pawson, noting that he enjoys “the freedom and clarity of an uncluttered space.”

The Lounge, in Douglas Classic, at Home Farm. Photo: Claus Troelsgaard

The relationship with Dinesen started when Pawson was designing his first private home in Notting Hill, London in 1992. The story goes that during this time, the late British architect Richard Rogers stopped by with a piece of Douglas fir under his arm. The texture of the wood was far too busy for Rogers, who was looking for Japanese oak, but Pawson was impressed by the strong grain texture. “I never saw such a piece of wood and in a way, but you could argue that’s not very minimal.”

That sample was from Dinesen, and Pawson ordered the company’s Douglas fir boards originating from the Black Forest in Germany for the flooring of his home. Until then, Dinesen had created floorboards only for castles, churches, and mansions. Pawson was the first to request their wood for a private home. The 15-meter planks were laid uncut, in one single piece, from the front of the house to the back.

The dining table, in Douglas Classic, from the Pawson Furniture Collection for Dinesen. Photo: Claus Troelsgaard

Originally, all Dinesen floorboards had a conical shape and created a pattern, but Pawson asked for boards in the same width, and finally utilized them to fabricate a table and stools, including chairs for his children. This led to the original furniture collection for the namesake Pawson House.

“My grandfather didn’t want to cut the planks, because he wanted to use all of it,” explains Hans Peter Dinesen, a fifth generation Dinesen family member and brand director. “And then you must take care of the waste when you cut it.” Dinesen says that Pawson first asked his mother to start to experiment with one width floorboards, and eventually she convinced his father as well. Presently, Dinesen is exploring with designers and researchers how to utilize sawdust in the life cycle of the production and develop meaningful products.

In 2020 Dinesen and Pawson picked up the thread from their first collaboration together, with the idea being to add pieces to the original furniture collection for Pawson House in 1992, with the use of textile for the cushions being a new addition. “It’s very much a present element in the new pieces,” says Pawson, describing it as a logical extension. “The cushions continue the theme of assembled and layered elements.” The upholstery fabric used for the launch is called Mable, sourced from Danish brand Kvadrat, and was done by a specialist on Funen island, three hours from Copenhagen.

The Lounge, in Douglas Classic, at Home Farm. Photo: Claus Troelsgaard

For Pawson, “placing the furniture is really important. How you place it, where you place it, what it is in relationship to the space.” And the pieces of the collection are very heavy and hard to move around. “The furniture and the space are like a medium,” he adds. “To have a sensual experience when you enter the space, and you can feel and touch the wood. But furniture is also a medium.”

Dinesen and Pawson share the love of the purity of the plank itself. “What is significant with the furniture is that it looks deceptively simple” says Pawson. “The Boards are so magnificent by themselves, that really to do much more with them seems a pity. Like this table. It’s a pity because you don’t want to put anything on it.” Pawson and Dinesen see wood, not only as a building block, but kind of an aesthetic, a philosophy, and a way of life.

Cover: The dining table, in Douglas Classic, from the Pawson Furniture Collection for Dinesen.
Photo: Claus Troelsgaard


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