Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Design Legend Joseph Braswell

Today, I'm featuring the work of the late Joseph Braswell, a designer who seemed to have quite a range. As you can see here, he could design masculine, neoclassically inspired interiors. Or, he could do kicky and colorful or elegant and serene. No matter the style in which he was working, his interiors seemed to be elegant, appropriate, and quietly confident.

An Alabama boy who later graduated from Parsons School of Design, Braswell worked for leaders of the field including Melanie Kahane and Raymond Loewy. It was when he set up his own business back in the mid-1950s that his career really took off. I found a quote of Mr. Braswell's on the internet that I think is just terrific, and I'd like to share it with you.

Blessed are the beautifiers, for they see God in everything they do. This work may deal in things, but it is really, truly, at heart, about the people who occupy the space, use the things. If design is good, it makes the people whom it serves better people. It is very difficult to be mean spirited in an uplifting environment. That, ultimately, is what I try, at my best, to deliver.

I'd say he delivered, and with such style and grace.

Braswell quote from Interior Design Magazine


  1. Oh the colors and the repetition of lattice patterns in room number three! Magical.

  2. Courtney- With those bright, cheery colors, I don't see how anyone could be mean-spirited in that room!

  3. Braswell I can get behind. I have noticed his engaging rooms in my trips down vintage lane. Thanks for gathering some together. A classic.

  4. Braswell I can get behind. I have noticed his engaging rooms in my trips down vintage lane. Thanks for gathering some together. A classic.

  5. Jennifer, I read with great interest about Mr. Braswell as he is a fellow Alabamian and I was unaware of that. My, my.....his work is extraordinary! I just adore his impeccable style!! Thanks so much for this post and the wonderful quote by him.....very very true and lovely!!!

  6. Yes, yes! Room Number 3!

    It was cool then, it's cool now & all you'd need to do to make it absolutely of-the-moment is yank those skirts & replace the lamp shades. The overall vision is still good to go.

  7. The bedroom is quite beautiful, now and then ... Very intrigued by the space ...

  8. The only jarring note is the coral cushions ... should have been pale gray or pale stone-blue ...

  9. Magnaverde- It's always the lampshades that date a room, isn't it!?

  10. Aesthete- The pillows are too much of an exclamation point in an otherwise tranquil room.

  11. Also, I think my favorite room is number 1. Love the masculinity of it.

  12. Anonymous2:17 PM

    Room #1 has great architectural elements.
    What looks like period Parquet de Versailles flooring, the folly of that French or Italian fireplace topped by a round niche for a marble bust, and a ceiling high enough to handle a full blown two tiered silvered dutch style chandelier! Not mention back to back sofas- one has wonder what went on the other side of the room. Although I dont like the fabrics or the brushed metal treatments put together this way or the wall finish... its still a great room. A room better proportions and architectural details than many newly decorated rooms I've seen lately.
    Thank you for this unexpected look at the high style decorating of Joseph Braswell. Is he still alive- I remember hearing his name all the time back around 1980.

  13. J- He died a few years ago. Great observation about that first room.

  14. Jennifer, I did some research myself on Mr. Braswell since he was an Alabamian! He really had a very illustrious career as a designer.......very well respected and revered in the design world of his day. Loved learning about him....Also found out he died on June 16,2006 of pancreatic cancer and his sister died the SAME day of cancer also. Could not believe this! He was born in 1928 in Sheffield AL. Thank you so much for exposing me to this great designer......I just love your blog because I always learn something!!.... xoxo

  15. Gasp! These photos are beautiful! Thank you for sharing. I really enjoy your blog!!

  16. Joe was a dear friend of mine. We met at a spiritual workshop, for Joe was intensely interested in spiritual growth and development. He was aware and grateful for his own gifts in art and interior design; but he saw everyone's gift's within the larger context of Source and our fundamental Unity. Joe helped me design my apartment in Soho, at no cost. He was as a friend always available to give of himself. He was essentially a loving person.

    I had not seen him for a few years prior to his passing; and I was deeply saddened to learn of it. Though knowing Joe, he is on the other side designing the Palace of some great King or Queen passed on, for the beautification of our environments was and will no doubt always be his great passion.

    God Bless you, Joe.

    Mike Schwager

  17. Jeanne Wolfe12:53 PM

    Joe was a wonderful gift to humanity. I never had the blessing of meeting him. Wish I had. Everytime I see photos of his work it uplifts me. One can never be down for long when looking at his timeless interiors. Just thinking of him makes me happy.

  18. Robert C. Mohr1:23 PM

    I am so glad I found this post - albeit seven years late! Pictures (1), (2) and (4) are from my late parents apartment at 740 Park Avenue in New York City. They owned it from 1972 to 1978. Many great parties were held there. Not only did Mr. Braswell go onto decorate several subsequent apartments, he became a great friend to our family as well.
    The proverbial Southern Gentleman, many did not realize how kind and warmhearted he could actually be once he liked you.
    Years later, after my parents were long gone and he had retired to Pensacola (which he frankly regretted). he made it a point to stay in touch.
    Joe Braswell was a very talented man and at his height considered one of the best decorators within the New York City arena.

    1. Robert, What a fabulous apartment in which to live! Mr. Braswell was so talented, and your parents obviously had great taste.