Profile of Orlando Diaz-Azcuy

August 24, 2016

Since the mid-1970s, Orlando Diaz-Azcuy has been a bright, unshakable force in the design world. Born in Cuba in 1940, he fled to the United States in the early 1960s, eventually settling in Washington, DC, and later migrating to California to attend graduate school at Berkeley. It didn’t take long for Diaz-Azcuy to make his mark: at only 36 years of age, he became vice-president of the extremely successful architecture and design firm Gensler, where he was quickly promoted to the role of design principal. This was in 1976, only two years after he became a US citizen, and it was the first major step in Diaz-Azcuy’s meteoric rise.

Several prestigious awards and widespread acclaim over the next few years prompted Diaz-Azcuy to open his own firm, ODADA (Orlando Diaz-Azcuy Design Associates) in 1987. ODADA’s initial focus was on furniture design, but the scope of the company soon broadened beyond furniture to overall interior design. In the subsequent years, ODADA grew into one of the region’s premier design studios, and Diaz-Azcuy solidified a reputation as a master of modern minimalism.

In an interview last year, Diaz-Azcuy defined his style as being “inspired by simplicity and honesty.” Since the early days, he’s had a remarkable ability to craft refined and sophisticated spaces that do more with less. It takes a deft hand to knowwhen to show restraint and when to let things fly, and Diaz-Azcuy always seems to know when to apply the perfect strategy. His work is striking, bold, and truly one of a kind; he creates deep, subtle color palettes that feed off each other to inspire a feeling of cohesion throughout a space. This phenomenal skill and artistry have helped him grow into one of the most prolific interior designers working today.

Diaz-Azcuy’s latest venture is the skyline-defining 181 Fremont luxury condos in SOMA, San Francisco. Diaz-Azcuy designed the amenities floor, as well as the sales office and the magnificent lobby. When speaking about this project, he understandably gets poetic: “To enter the lobby of this building is like walking into a living sculpture.” At a height of 25 feet, punctuated by a luminous gold dome and sheltered by shimmering glass, the lobby may be the most breathtaking space in a building filled to the brim with breathtaking spaces.

Diaz-Azcuy has been beautifying the Bay Area and beyond for over four decades, and 181 Fremont will serve as his final masterpiece before heading into retirement. A career of relentless trendsetting defined by a subtle hand, and a one-of-a-kind aesthetic aptitude has reached its culmination. 181 Fremont is bound to be the new pinnacle of luxury condos in San Francisco, and it seems all but destined to cement Diaz-Azcuy’s legacy as an artist of unparalleled talent.