John Pawson’s steak knife for when objects work is the outcome of collaboration with the specialised Japanese knife makers KAI. The knife’s spare formal language is a modern expression of proportion and detailing, but is recognizably informed by longstanding aesthetic precedents.
Pawson’s design takes contrasting conditions - curved and straight, matte and gloss, the handle’s heft and the slenderness of the Damascus steel blade - and achieves visual harmony through a series of meticulously honed junctions.
Its fabrication is shaped by KAI’s knowledge of the traditions of Samurai sword-making. The seamless assimilation of Pawson’s contemporary vision and KAI’s age-old craftsmanship is reflected in the refinement of the finished object. Every example of the organic patterning produced by the working of the metal is unique and perfectly complements the rich grain of the ebony handle.
Produced in Seki, one of Japan's traditional sword making cities, the blade is composed of 32 layers of stainless Damascus steel. Different types of metal alloy are layered and then shaped into a single piece. Due to this production method, the cutting core material (V-Gold-10-steel) is supported and protected. This clad construction is similar to how Samurai swords are traditionally made. Completing the process, manual honing delivers an ultimate sharpness to the blade.
John Pawson was born in 1949 in Halifax, Yorkshire. After a period in the family textile business he left for Japan, spending several years teaching English at the business University of Nagoya. Towards the end of his time there he moved to Tokyo, where he visited the studio of Japanese architect
and designer Shiro Kuramata. Following his return to England, he enrolled at the Architecture Association in London, leaving to establish his own practice in 1981. From the outset the work has focused on ways of approaching fundamental problems of space, proportion, light and materials, rather than on developing a set of stylistic mannerisms - themes he also explored in his book Minimum, first published in 1996, which examines the notion of simplicity in art, architecture and design across a variety of historical and cultural contexts.
John Pawson eschews decorative distractions in favor of pristine settings that seem almost monastic in their spatial and chromatic restraint. Enrichment, when it comes, often takes a utilitarian form - kitchen counters topped with four-inch-thick slabs of marble, floors of wide-plank rift oak from Denmark. The title of the monograph coinciding with his 2010 exhibition at London’s Design Museum, says it all - John Pawson: Plain Space (Phaidon).
Early commissions included homes for the writer Bruce Chatwin, opera director Pierre Audi and collector Doris Lockhart Saatchi, together with art galleries in London, Dublin and New York. Whilst private houses have remained a consistent strand of the work, subsequent projects have spanned a wide range of scales and building typologies, ranging from Calvin Klein Collection’s flagship store in Manhattan and airport lounges for Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong, to a condominium for Ian Schrager on New York’s Gramercy Park, the interior of a 50-metre yacht and sets for new ballets at London’s Royal Opera House and the Opéra Bastille in Paris.
Over the years John Pawson has accrued extensive experience of the particular challenges of working within environments of historic, landscape and ecological significance, key examples including the Sackler Crossing - a walkway over the lake at London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew - the Cistercian monastery of Our Lady of Nový Dvůr in Bohemia and the former Commonwealth Institute in London, scheduled to open as a new permanent home for the Design Museum in 2015.
When objects work is the vision of its director Beatrice de Lafontaine. The Belgian company produces and distributes exclusive objects designed by leading designers and architects whose work shares a preoccupation with basic forms, immaculate function and a timeless idiom.
William Morris famously observed that one should "have nothing in your house which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful". From its first collection shown at the Milan Furniture Fair in 2001, when objects work has pursued the principle that everyday objects can be useful whilst having aesthetic features.
In this manner they've commissioned designers to explore the theme of decorative art as superlative domestic equipment in the fullest and most challenging ways possible and to develop innovative manufacturing solutions where necessary. Most of the objects are hand-made with authentic materials & traditional craftsmanship.
Ebony handle, damascus steel blade, 13 layers of metal
Made in Belgium
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