John Pawson has designed the British fashion designer Christopher Kane’s first retail space in a Edwardian building that was previously a bank and a hairdresser in London. The goal of this project was never a signature work of architecture, but an environment with an emotional dimension, where the focus is on the clothes and on the people connected with the clothes.
Underlying everything is the idea of atmosphere as the product of the delicately subversive play of contrasting characteristics – the natural and the synthetic, the classical and the experimental, the recessive and the arresting, the reflective and the transparent, the solid and the dematerialised.
Externally the design reinstates elements of the original Edwardian elevations, creating simple, full-height openings, stripped of all extraneous details. Successive portals heighten the experience of entry, with heavy timber leaves framing a second transparent threshold of glass set in Portland stone.
Inside the floor plan is divided into a series of domestically scaled rooms, with floors, walls and ceiling conceived as a calm ground for bolder figural moves. Although the palette is neutral, it is tonally warm, with the quality of seamlessness reinforced by refined proportions, rigorous detailing and the quality of the light. Permanent gestures, like the attenuated line of steel that runs through the depth of the floor plan and down the stairs, combine with a changing vocabulary of curatable elements that includes coloured acrylic pieces.
all images © GILBERT McCARRAGHER