Skip to main content

What Is Joseph Dirand's Biggest Design Secret?

Having worked on projects ranging from hotels and restaurants to private homes and flagship stores, architect Joseph Dirand has developed a special way of approaching design.

    SLIDESHOW: Joseph Dirand: "I am no longer excited just by the prospect of buying something for a project. I prefer to create something new or find something vintage."

    by Joseph Dirand (as told to Daniel Hilarion Lim)

    When people ask me what I like about working on new projects, I tell them one thing: I love telling stories. My work is more about creating moments than just designing aesthetics. After all, the aesthetic of a space is just a small part of its design.

    My team works across all the sectors of design, from residential to commercial projects, which include hospitality projects such as hotels and restaurants. I love working on projects such as restaurants because you are sharing your designs to a large number of people. Knowing that, every day, a few hundred people enjoy moments of their lives in a space that you’ve designed for them is something that really resonates with me.

    This also applies to other commercial projects such as fashion boutiques. My team and I work with many brands such as Alexander Wang, Givenchy, Balenciaga, Chloé and Balmain. These brands usually approach us when there is a change in vision or concept, and we try to design something that really brings out a brand’s DNA.

    Personally, I prefer to work on something that I am unfamiliar with because I don’t want to do something that I know will be very easy for me as a designer. I love the idea of working with a brand that is kind of the opposite of my style. I love to work on spaces that I don’t know.

    I suppose design is just that. You have to create something based on the space. For my current project with the Four Seasons in Miami, I tried to create something that uses Miami itself as a source of inspiration. It’s this unique blend of Art Deco, Mediterranean and Spanish influences, combined with the sophistication of the 1940s and 1950s — a bit of Havana and some glamour of the vintage, if you will. By bringing together all these design ingredients, we want you to be able to experience Miami exactly the way you’d like to experience Miami.

    The idea of trying to be inspired by the project gives you the opportunity to rediscover masterpieces of design from different periods. I always start each project the same way: with a lot of research. For my latest project, I sourced more than 5,000 images from the 1930s to the classical periods. And I combine all these elements and find the story of the space that binds them all together. It is through this process that I am able to create a unique story that is a mishmash of everything, this mixture between times, a blend of old and new.

    Something that is very important to me is the idea of global design. I am no longer excited just by the prospect of buying something for a project. I prefer to create something new or find something vintage. I love mixing some vintage elements into my designs. But for everything else, I love to design from scratch. We’ve started to develop bespoke lighting, switches, taps, bathtubs and sinks. And we do so because we work on a lot of projects that do not have many constraints. Because this gives us the freedom to create, there is absolutely no reason or excuse to be lazy in our designs.

    People need to get over the idea that expensive things equate to luxury. For me, the highest level of luxury is having something custom-made for you. This is true for everything in your life. Take your shoes, for example: there are few things better than shoes specially made to fit you. There is more pleasure in creating something unique than buying something mass-produced.