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Joseph D'Urso

Joseph D'Urso

USA (1943)
Headshot of designer.

“If one isn’t careful,” says Joseph D’Urso, “one ends up living in a storeroom.” This innovative designer has been called a “master of minimalist design,” credited for being among the first to use industrial materials in his residential interiors. As a pioneer of the “high tech” design movement that emerged out of the 1970s, he expanded the design vocabulary with new materials and graphic, streamlined forms.

Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1943, D’Urso’s design education began at the Pratt Institute, where he graduated in 1965. D’Urso got his start in New York working as an assistant to Ward Bennett, who he credited with inspiring his own “total design” approach. He went on to become a Fellow of the Royal College of Art in London, and began his own practice, D’Urso Design, in New York in 1967. Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, D’Urso became famous for his spare, minimal interiors, for which he was hired by scores of private clients, as well as design-centered companies like Calvin Klein and Esprit. His embrace of industrial materials was a critical step in the evolution of modernism. “There are other sources for a faucet or a chair or light fixture,” he says. “Often these sources were much more useful, because they were not trying to appeal to someone’s sentimentality….They were engineered products, they were good design.”

D’Urso designed his first furniture collection for Knoll®, Inc. in 1980, leading his generation in collaborating with the legendary manufacturers. That collection, which D’Urso described as “casual and physical,” included a sofa, as well as high and low tables. D’Urso takes the same clean-lined approach to furniture that he took with his interiors. “You have to be constantly in touch with your environment,” he says. “You have to be constantly questioning yourself: Why am I putting this here?” He reconnected with Knoll in 2008 to introduce the D’Urso Collection.

The quotes here are taken from a 1981 video with Joseph D’Urso that can be viewed here.

Joseph D'Urso

D%27Urso Sofa in Leather and Fabric
D%27Urso Lounge Chair in Leather and Fabric
D%27Urso Swivel Lounge
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