Inside French architect Joseph Dirand's new Apartment.14.03.20
It was probably inevitable that Joseph Dirand would go into architecture and his brother Adrien would turn to photography. The pair were sons of Jacques Dirand, one of the decor world’s preeminent photographers. Throughout their childhood in Paris, they’d hover over the light box, loupe to eye, and gaze at the mesmeric locales their father had captured on 35mm slides. “Venetian palaces, Palladian villas, artists’ houses, masters’ ateliers, cabinets of curiosity, princesses’ boudoirs, Tuscan castles, Napoleonic apartments, fishermen’s huts,” Adrien, who took the pictures for this story, wrote in Joseph Dirand: Interior, published by Rizzoli several years ago. “We would relive these trips with few words, passion, and a hint of mischief.” That’s also an apt way to describe Dirand’s work. He sees his approach as “ornamental minimalism,” he explained on a winter Friday night at his new home on the Right Bank. “I create space with equilibrium and a classic base.” Yet “there are details and compositions,” he continued, like mixing marble powder into cement to give it a glistening silkiness, or painting mirrored closet doors with foggy, Turner-esque murals, or scorching silver-clad kitchen cabinets to evoke the smoky allure of a Belle Époque bordello. This would be the mischief.
The overall palette is “natural tints,” Dirand said, motioning toward the tobacco-hued Versailles parquet and walls and furniture in off-whites, pale greens, and the lightest of grays—a neutral canvas devised to set off his extensive modern, abstract, and Arte Povera art collection.
Clearly, stone is Dirand’s preferred material. Walls, flat surfaces, baths are all in soft-tone stone or marble—often cut from massive blocks he purchased years ago and stored, “waiting for the right moment.”