on the occasion of the venice architecture biennale 2021, italian yacht manufacturer sanlorenzo celebrates its upcoming collaboration with english minimalist architect and designer john pawson with an exhibition titled a point of view. running until the 31st of july, 2021, the solo show has been staged in the sale de maria of the casa dei tre oci in venice. this collaboration marks the return to the water for pawson and a new opportunity to explore his vision of rigorously simple architecture.


designboom attended the press preview of the exhibition in venice and spoke with john pawson about his approach to designing a new yacht for sanlorenzo. read our interview below.

john pawson discusses his yacht design for sanlorenzo
sketches and photography by john pawson, courtesy of sanlorenzo



world leading yacht and superyacht manufacturer sanlorenzo was the first company of its type to launch collaborations with influential names in the world of design. this path has led them to collaborate with john pawson, who has reinterpreted the interiors of a new sanlorenzo metal superyacht through drawings and sketches presented at the exhibition. divided in two sections — sanlorenzo and home — the show explores pawson’s spatial poetry which relies in the perfect balance between space, promotion, light and materiality. ‘from the beginning my work has been about creating places where the eye is free to travel,’ the architect said. ‘it is this freedom of movement that lies at the heart of the exhibition I have made with sanlorenzo.’

john pawson discusses his yacht design for sanlorenzo



DESIGNBOOM (DB): this collaboration with sanlorenzo marks your return to the water. from the highest levels of comfort to spatial quality and safety, how are you applying your minimalist architecture style into the yacht?


JOHN PAWSON (JP): I bring the same set of spatial preoccupations to every project on which I have ever worked. for me, it is always about creating environments where the eye, the body and the mind feel comfortable and instinctively at home.

john pawson discusses his yacht design for sanlorenzo



DB: light plays a primary role in your ‘a point of view’ photo exhibition with sanlorenzo. in yachts, this is something that is constantly changing — direction, water reflections, etc. is this something you considered when designing the interiors of the yacht?


JP: the dynamic character of the light is a hugely exciting aspect of the design. in a building you are dealing with the daily rhythms of the natural light and the way in which these are effected by the weather and the cycle of the season. at sea, change and variability are the only constants. you think you have conceived of every outcome for the play of light and shadow, but still you are surprised.

john pawson discusses his yacht design for sanlorenzo



DB: what are the main aspects taken into consideration during a yacht design process?


JP: the most important thing is the quality of the conversation between all the various parties working on the project. it is critical that the work draws on the diverse strengths and experience of everyone involved. it’s a very intense process.

john pawson discusses his yacht design for sanlorenzo



DB: yachts exude opulence, luxury, money… how are you refining this?


JP: for me, the ultimate luxury is quality of space. thinking about yacht interiors in terms of light, surface, proportion and atmosphere: these are the priorities I have brought to the project.

john pawson discusses his yacht design for sanlorenzo



DB: which skills from the architecture world did you bring into the project and which from the naval world have you learned?


JP: I think for all of us, it’s an appreciation for how every detail matters – its conception and its execution.

john pawson discusses his yacht design for sanlorenzo



DB: what is the most challenging aspect of designing a yacht?


JP: you have always to keep in mind the constant motion of the sea – right up to the tumult of storm conditions – which creates entirely different interactions between people and their physical environment.

john pawson discusses his yacht design for sanlorenzo



DB: how do you spend a day off?


JP: I have never drawn a clear line between off and on days. for me it’s all work and all life. during lockdown we acquired a dog and walking him has become a great new joy of daily life.



project info:


name: a point of view exhibition

artist: john pawson

presented by: sanlorenzo

location: sale de maria of the casa dei tre oci in venice

dates: 22 may to 31 july, 2021