“I love minimalist architecture, the precise, clear vocabulary and the detail,” says Joseph Dirand in his biography. However the French architect and interior designer admits he’s come a long way since starting out in his field, when his work was characterised by a strictly pared-back aesthetic and a rigorously monochrome colour palette. These days, his style is warmer, more welcoming, while still being very precise; Architectural Digest has dubbed it a “romantic take on minimalism”.
The son of renowned interiors photographer Jacques Dirand, Joseph opened his Paris studio in 1999. His residential work is truly magical, but Dirand has also made his reputation creating interiors for fashion brands – Chloé, Balmain and Givenchy are among those with Dirand-designed flagship boutiques. So acute is his attention to detail that Dirand has recently designed his own line of furniture, its sleek geometric lines a perfect accompaniment to the vintage Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret furniture that he also favours.
His interiors make a clear argument that minimalism is not just about stripping everything back, it’s also about layering up with the right mix of old and new, hard and soft. While a bespoke Dirand interior is beyond the reach of most of us, some of his design signatures can be more easily integrated. Here are three techniques that perfectly tread the line between warmth and minimalism.
Play with textures
Whether it’s rich, warm wood alongside a slab of sleek marble or plush velvet beside cool, clear glass, Dirand builds up depth by varying the textures in a room. Many of his signature interiors combine all of the aforementioned materials, often with a flash of gleaming brass thrown in for good measure. As he often works in a single colour or limited palette, introducing texture is a clever way to add dimension; the bedroom in his own apartment – seen below, rendered in cool grey – is a perfect example of this.
Introduce muted colours
When he does include colour, Dirand favours a muted palette of olive, bronze, icy blue and rose pink. Even in monochrome, there’s a muted effect, as whites are chalky rather than blinding and grey is a favoured accent. Such a low-key mix of hues fits effortlessly into Dirand’s Parisian landscape, with its proliferation of milky limestone and soft, golden light, but it can really be used anywhere to calming effect.
Make art the finishing touch
Almost every Dirand interior is punctuated by a piece of art. But while the current trend might be for line art and illustration, this designer favours making a stronger statement through abstract paintings or eye-catching contemporary sculptures.
Photography by Adrien Dirand and Martin Morrell for The New York Times
Written by Michelle Bateman