London Design Festival – John Pawson's Perspectives

With the London Design Festival kicking off this Saturday, we headed down to one of its star attractions – John Pawson’s ‘Perspectives’ installation in St Paul’s Cathedral – for a preview…

Architect and designer John Pawson has teamed up with Swarovski Crystal to create an installation in the Geometric Staircase of St Paul’s.

The celebrated staircase was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the early 18th century and is normally closed to the public.

Entitled ‘Perspectives’, Pawson’s experiential creation will be unveiled during the London Design Festival and will remain open to the public until January 2012.

‘Perspectives’ uses the largest Swarovski lens ever manufactured to create an optical experience that “depends on scientific subtlety, material simplicity and a complex combination of light, space and proportion to reflect an environment rich in history and beauty,” a Swarovski spokesperson explains.

Pawson said: “St Paul‟s is one of the most recognisable buildings in the country. Inevitably it’s the grand architectural moves that everyone knows – the west elevation, the nave and the dome. In collaboration with Swarovski, I have been given the chance to turn the focus on a less familiar element – the Geometric Staircase – which is a detail, but also a complete architectural moment in its own right.

“The cathedral is an immensely complex work of architecture and the temptation when you visit is to try to take in everything. This is about offering a spatial experience based around a single, sharply honed perspective.”

A concave Swarovski crystal meniscus sits on a much larger reflective hemisphere at the foot of Wren’s spiralling staircase, with a spherical convex mirror suspended 23 meters above in the tower’s cupola.

Together, these optical elements are designed to create a composite image of the view up through the tower for visitors gathered round the hemisphere at the base, allowing them, as Pawson says, “to see beyond the level of the naked eye” and gain a perspective never before seen of one of Britain’s most iconic buildings.


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