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Diary of a Perfectionist

Andre Staffelbach’s namesake firm celebrates 50 years in business with a compelling compendium depicting five decades of design.


Staffelbach’s award-winning design for Carlson Capital’s Dallas office


f there were only one personality trait that best defines Swiss architect and designer Andre Staffelbach and his 50-year-old Dallas-based namesake design firm, it would be fastidiousness. “Andre is Swiss, and they are always on time—and meticulous,” Jo Staffelbach Heinz, Andre’s longtime professional and life partner, says with a laugh.

The unstoppable duo’s shared fervor for attention to detail has propelled the commercial and hospitality design firm to worldwide success since its 1966 founding. To mark their half-century portfolio of work—which includes the recent $33 million renovation of The Crescent in Uptown—Jo, who merged her design firm with Staffelbach in 1985 and has since served as president and CEO, encouraged Andre to produce a professional monograph. The resulting just-released tome, What Shapes Design, is a manifestation of their design approach, and their stately and elegant transitional aesthetic.

The monograph reads more like an inspiring page turner than a project compilation, spanning six visionary themes, including craftsmanship and experience. Panoramic vistas of the Swiss Alps blend with behind-the-scenes captures of handcrafted millwork, intricate facades found in Switzerland’s Engadin valley, the richly textured lobby of Dallas’ iconic Chase Tower—and even a Swiss cowbell, which often breaks the silence of the Alps.

“I thought about the experiences, inspirations and individuals that bring our projects to fruition,” Andre says. “Our hope was for the book to flow similarly to the reality of life’s progression—to speak to how images and experiences can influence us at an early age.”

An inside look at What Shapes Design ($60, Visual Profile Books)

It also speaks to their many clients; the designers, architects and craftsmen they have employed for decades; and to a continued quest for fresh opportunity. “New challenges bring about a joy, and we always look forward—that’s what keeps us going,” Andre says. “My next project is always my favorite project.”