The Parti and the Attitude Behind Each Design

“Le Parti” has three main origins: it comes from the French Prendre parti meaning “to make a decision”; often referred to as the big idea; and it is the chief organizing thought or decision behind an architect’s design presented in the form of a basic diagram and /or a simple statement

Being an integrated architecture and interior design firm we are often asked to describe how the two disciplines work together to create the best results. This has always been an interesting question to answer. We do work together from an early stage to give input that is valuable in ensuring that the artistic and creative elements respond to the functional and programmatic requirements; this is true, but it’s not what leads to a truly exceptional, innovative and poetic solution.

I recently presented to a small group for which I was able to clearly voice what made my collaboration with the architects in the firm distinct.

If you follow our blogs you may recall one describing the architectural “parti”. Le parti is described as the big idea, the concept, the story. It gives the why, the poetic reasons to every decision that is made from the massing to the design articulation. All of the architects in the office work within this philosophy. It is something that was taught to them in school – no design is worth a passing grade if it is not supported by a strong parti. It is what creates a unique experience within each new design and is thus invaluable.

So in a collaborative office, if the architect brings the parti, what does the interior designer bring? How can one add to something so powerful in affecting human experience? My answer to that is “attitude”.  It is the desired attitude that will inform the designer’s choice of style – be it traditional or modern; it will inform the finishes to support a certain mood and it will inform the details to support a certain formality which then unites with the architecture. Let me describe it this way – for the time being, let’s remove “le parti” altogether. Take a standard rectangular office space that is four walls sans parti. Imagine how it would be designed for a Mad Men mid-century Hans Wagner inspired interior vs. a House of Cards neo-classical interior vs. House of Lies contemporary glass condo interior. That’s the attitude. It’s the look and feel and mood that incentivises to place you in a state of mind to give you an experience.  Attitude is something that is much easier to recognize, describe and understand but it holds equal weight to the final experience as the parti.

Through the collaborative work that we have done together at DMA, we know that the best design solutions have both a strong parti and a strong attitude. They work together to enhance the desired poetic experience, which is essentially what great design is all about. 

Doris Martin is principal and senior interior designer, Davignon Martin Architecture + Interior Design. the preceding is a re-post of the firm’s blog, which can be seen at