The Aesthete: Joseph Walsh talks more personal taste

The furniture designer concludes his list of likes with the impeccable style of Jack Lenor Larsen, the immersive art of Caspar David Friedrich and Jack Brodsky’s essay on Venice

Joseph Walsh at home in Ireland
Joseph Walsh at home in Ireland | Image: Tristan Hutchinson

My style icon is Jack Lenor Larsen, the man behind Larsen textiles. He is just the coolest; he has impeccable style, topped off with amazing hats. He once gave me a tie he designed that was made here in Ireland in the 1960s.

American textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen in 1982
American textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen in 1982 | Image: Getty Images

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a classic white Prada shirt that I picked up in Harrods. I had to fly to London at the last minute and didn’t have time to pack. Prada stretch poplin shirt, £335;


The best book I’ve read in the past year is Watermark, the poet Joseph Brodsky’s essay on Venice. I’ve been working on a project for next year’s Biennale and this small book transforms how you see and experience the city. 

Stages of Life by Caspar David Friedrich
Stages of Life by Caspar David Friedrich | Image: Bridgeman Images

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is impossible to choose, but two I’d begin with are Jacob Hashimoto, because his kites have an incredible freedom of expression and beauty, and the 19th-century landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich. I love the way his paintings invite the viewer to stand inside them with the subjects and look into the land or seascape. 

Piccolo Teatro in Milan
Piccolo Teatro in Milan | Image: Masiar Pasquali

If I didn’t live in Kinsale, the city I would live in is Milan. I used to have a small apartment there and I enjoyed how easy it was to discover new things through exhibitions and performances. Finding Piccolo Teatro, Milan’s first public theatre, was a highlight of that time. I still visit the city regularly and always drop into the Nilufar gallery where I know I’ll find something interesting from the past. The men’s clothing store Larusmiani is another favourite: the downstairs section is filled with every accessory a man could ever need. Museo Bagatti Valsecchi is fascinating too: a historic-house museum, it’s full of 15th- and 16th-century paintings and decorative objects. Larusmiani, Via Montenapoleone 7, 20121 (+3902-7600 6957; Museo Bagatti Valsecchi, Via Gesù 5, 20121 (+3902-7600 6132; Nilufar, Via della Spiga 32, 20121 ( Piccolo Teatro, Via Rovello 2, 20121 (+3902-4241 1889; 

Walsh’s tea caddy from Japan, centre
Walsh’s tea caddy from Japan, centre | Image: Tristan Hutchinson

The last music I downloaded or bought was so long ago I can’t remember. I don’t do downloads, and although I have a turntable, I don’t often go record shopping.


The best gift I’ve received recently was a box of Alphonso mangoes from the film producer and designer Ambika Hinduja Macker, after I installed a sculpture for her in India. It wasn’t a surprise – there’s a mango exchange whenever and wherever we meet. We joke that they are our currency.

The best souvenir I’ve brought home recently is a tin tea caddy from Kaikado in Kyoto. It’s an old family workshop that is committed to its craft and is inventing new ways for people to use what is a very traditional Japanese household object. From £110;

An indulgence I would never forgo is time for a proper meal. I have dinner with a friend on Wednesdays, and twice a week a local chef, Una Crosbie, comes and cooks lunch, perhaps a traditional fish pie, for me and my team. It’s hard to imagine life without this shared quality time during our working days.

The person I rely on for personal grooming is my local hairdresser Fintan Lynch. Grooming is quite low on my list of priorities, but when I have to run to an exhibition opening, I call him.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be either an archaeologist – because I enjoy discovering new things and understanding how they inform today – or a forester. I’ve done a little bit of tree planting and I find seeing trees come into leaf each spring very fulfilling.

See also