My Secret Life: John Pawson, architect, 61


My parents were ... brought up Methodists. My mother had an enduringly complicated relationship with the material world which I have inherited, along with my father's appetite for absolute quality.

The house/flat I grew up in ... was in Halifax, on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. As the youngest of five children – I have four older sisters – I started life in the smallest room in the house: a room about 4ft wide, above the kitchen. I woke up every morning to the smell of bacon and egg.

When I was a child I wanted to be ... James Bond.

If I could change one thing about myself ... I would be more relaxed about the things that don't matter. It's hell being a perfectionist.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at ... I was very good at sculling at school.

You wouldn't know it but I'm no good at ... sketching. My cartoons are sought-after in the office, for their eccentricity.

At night I dream of ... the usual transport crashes and not making it on time. This has become worrying recently, as I flail and shriek alarmingly while I'm asleep, according to my wife Catherine, who tries to wake me.

What I see when I look in the mirror ... Not the back of my head, where the crown is balding, except in those aeroplane loos.

My favourite item of clothing ... A suit given to me by the people at Calvin Klein, to wear at their 40th anniversary party in New York a couple of years ago. The cloth and cut are exquisite. Calvin Klein trusted me to design many buildings for them over the years, but not to choose my clothes.

I wish I'd never worn ... flared trousers.

I drive/ride ... a Seven Cycles Odonata – a custom-built bike from Massachusetts, for which you are measured like a suit. A few years ago I competed in the L'Etape in France. I'm currently training for a race from London, through Holland and Belgium, alongside my wife Catherine, raising money for juvenile diabetes.

My house is ... in Notting Hill. It's a traditional row house, which I completely stripped out behind the facade.

My favourite building ... The 12th-century Cistercian abbey of Le Thoronet in Provence. It's such an important point of reference for me that, in 2006, I designed an exhibition explaining its impact, Leçons du Thoronet.

My favourite work of art ... Pieter Saenredam's 'Interior of the Buurkerk', Utrecht, 1645.

A book that changed me ... 'Architecture of Truth', Lucien Hervé's extraordinary photographic essay of Le Thoronet, with a foreword by Le Corbusier. It was originally published in the 1950s. I designed a new edition of the book for Phaidon, which came out in 2001.

Movie heaven ... Something well-made, like 'Apocalypse Now'. It's still relevant.

The last album I bought/downloaded ... The XX – one of my elder son Caius's bands.

My greatest regret ... I wish I could have done something to slow the driver down before we had the accident in India that killed my friend.

My real-life villain ... Cancer and Aids, which have taken away friends prematurely.

The person who really makes me laugh ... My younger son, Benedict.

The last time I cried ... was looking out to the ocean in South Africa, when my father died while I was away.

My five-year plan ... It's all about the work.

What's the point? Best not to dwell on this.

My life in six words ... Too short.

A life in brief

John Pawson was born in Halifax in 1949. After working for the family textile business and as a teacher in Japan, he established his own architectural practice in 1981. Pawson has used his minimalist aesthetic in the design of homes, art galleries and fashion stores. An exhibition of his work, Plain Space, opens at the Design Museum in London on 22 September; see designmuseum.org

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little