John Pawson Sees "Poetry" in Dinesen's Wooden Planks

A new collection designed by the renowned minimalist for Danish brand Dinesen elevates the humble material from the floor to the table.

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The floor might not be what’s on your mind when you’re visiting Noma in Copenhagen, or the Saatchi Gallery in London. But what might at first appear unremarkable – wooden boards, hardly groundbreaking – is in fact the entire reason Danish brand Dinesen is in business.

Since its beginnings back in 1898, the company has become the go-to choice for exclusive wooden flooring among architects, designers, and interior enthusiasts, thanks to its catalogue of extra-long and extra-wide planks. Key to this success, though, was an encounter back in 1992.

A London-based designer named John Pawson was creating his own family home in Notting Hill, and had made an order of Dinesen flooring to finish the space. “When John ordered our wood for the first time in 1992, it was a renaissance for our flooring” says Hans Peter Dinesen, a fifth generation Dinesen family member and brand director.

Up until that point, the brand had largely dealt with historical buildings, such as castles and churches – a far cry from the modernist nature of Pawson’s work. They also had only worked with conical planks – Pawson wanted them to be straight, in order to keep the grain and texture as simple as possible. “He was the first to request our wood for a private home,” Thomas Dinesen adds. “In many ways, he changed our relationship with the ‘plank’ from a restoration material to a design element in modern architecture.”

According to Pawson, it was late architect Richard Rogers who got him onto the Dinesen offering. “Richard turned up to the building site [of the Notting Hill House], and tucked under his arm was a piece of Dinesen wood. I asked what it was, and he said ‘oh no, it’s too busy for you’. But I liked it, so I found out where it came from and went on to use it.”

In the house, dubbed “Pawson House”, there is a plank that stretched 15 metres – going through the space, from the balcony through the kitchen. The pictures alone were enough to sell Dinesen wood to an entirely new audience. It wasn’t just the floor that Pawson used Dinesen woods for either. He created chairs for his children, which were typically stripped back and honest in their form.

Now, some 30 years later, this partnership is further solidified in a bespoke furniture collection, aptly named “The Pawson Furniture Collection”. Throughout the new range are pieces old and new. The Dining Series, which encompasses a dining table, bench, and stool, is based on a design that Pawson drew back in 1992.

The Lounge Collection is an entirely new addition, and features a lounge chair, lounge table, coffee table, sofa and daybed crafted from Solid Douglas wood by local cabinet makers. The daybed and coffee table are conceived as lower
versions of the dining table.

“When I look at this new furniture collection for Dinesen, I see the essence of the thinking that has shaped my work since the beginning,” Pawson says. “Everything about these pieces is pared back to the logic and poetry of the wood. The dimensions of the timber determine the proportions of the forms and then it’s all about the inherent sensory character of the material.”

The Pawson Furniture Collection was previewed in Copenhagen last month, and will be on show during this year’s 3daysofdesign festival in June.

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