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EXPERT ADVICE Joseph Dirand’s guide to modern minimalism

Buy minimum and design maximum.

I’m more interested in the process of creating the details, such as a door handle, than composing an interior only with things that you can buy.

That way you’re sure that what you do is unique.

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I like to experiment with contrasts. Not necessarily in the way I used to, using a purely black and white palette, but through scale – pairing something very wide alongside something very thin. You can also play with contrasting styles, using a classic design as a base, then adding an extremely abstract piece.

There are lots of tricks for hiding technology – a television can disappear into a cabinet, or an air vent can be painted to look like marble, matching it into the room’s style. Adding vintage touches is a very important way of giving an interior a story. I also like to use design icons, such as chairs by Knoll. They aren’t a question of taste, they are part of culture.

I’m a very minimalist person, but my natural curiosity means that I am inspired by so many things. The plain becomes more detailed and complex as I bring in layers and colours.

Who is he? A French interior designer who set up his eponymous studio in 1999, two months after graduating with a degree from the Paris-Belleville School of Architecture. ‘Even when I was seven, I knew that I wanted to build something,’ recalls Dirand. His late father Jacques Dirand, a legendary photographer who specialised in interiors, had a huge influence when he was growing up. ‘He was a photographer because of his love for architecture and I was always aware of that. Every day I saw new interiors projects showing different moods and tastes.’ Dirand’s first project was designing a small fashion store for a friend while still at university, followed by a private apartment for an American film producer. In 2010, he created his first store for Balmain and quickly became the fashion world’s go-to; he has since designed stores for labels including Chloe, Givenchy and Balenciaga.

What’s his style? Dirand has a reputation for minimalism. ‘At the beginning, I was interested in British architect John Pawson and the details of Japanese culture. I started with a blank page, thinking about what was important: volume, contrast, perspective. I look at the essential elements of architecture through a minimalist lens,’ he explains. Using that as his foundation, he layers colours and ideas on top to create a timeless aesthetic. For each project, Dirand does extensive research – collecting at least 2,000 inspirational images as his starting point. By the time he is on site, everything, from the details of the door handles to an exact shade of green, has already been decided.

What is he currently working on? The interior of the Richard Meier-designed Four Seasons Surf Club in Miami. Of the project,

Dirand says: ‘With hospitality projects, it’s important that they are site specific. In Miami, we did a lot of research about the Art Deco movement and the city’s Spanish influences’. He is also involved in designing the first hotel for a private island in the Bahamas, consisting of 25 villas. ‘When you are creating something from scratch, you have to think about the short term, but also way into the future to make sure that you are developing it in the right way.’ He is also working on residential commissions in Miami and Paris.

He says: ‘For every project, we look at the sun and compose the space around where and how the light falls. A space can only be revealed by natural light.’ josephdirand. com

From top The restrained, minimalist interior of Parisian restaurant Monsieur Bleu. The striking marble fireplace in the living room of Dirand’s own home in Paris. A Dirand-designed private home, also in Paris ‘Volume, contrast, perspective.

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