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 pre-eminent 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 explains on a Friday night at his new home on the Right Bank of the Seine. “I create space with equilibrium and a classic base.” Yet “there are details and compositions”, he continues, 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.
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July - August 2020