Dariush Zandi’s love of art began during university while studying architecture and urban design in New York City. He became an active member of the arts scene of downtown New York in Soho in the 1970s, including museums, art galleries and artists.
Some years later, Zandi moved to the UAE, where he joined Dubai Municipality as a Senior Architect and Town Planner in 1981. His work included the restoration of historical buildings and their conversion into museums – such as Sheikh Saeed House, Naif Fort and Dubai Museum. He also created urban masterplans for the emirate of Dubai and worked on projects for famous landmarks such as Safa Park and Mushrif Park.
Currently, Zandi works in the capacity of an architectural advisor/consultant for international firms. Zandi designs with people and the environment in mind, creating optimum living spaces that seek to combine leading architectural and technological innovation with eco-friendly design. His projects work in harmony with both natural and traditional urban landscapes. Drawing from a geographically and culturally diverse background, Zandi has made significant contributions to major design and planning projects in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Zandi’s role in the UAE arts scene dates back to his arrival, when, alongside a group of close friends and colleagues, he developed the first art institute in Dubai, “Dubai Art Center”. Zandi served as Vice-Chairman of the UAE Architectural Heritage Society for years. He is the founder of two establishments, the multi-disciplinary creative studio Total Design, and a gallery, Total Arts.
Through Total Arts, he has sought to create a platform in which emerging and established artists can share their work with the public and each other, encouraging dialogue and exchange. Total Arts is housed within Zandi’s vast architectural masterpiece, the Courtyard. Originally opening in 1998, it was created as a cultural and artistic oasis in what was then an emerging arts scene in Dubai.
Zandi is also an acclaimed photographer, having studied film and photography in New York and California, traveling extensively and capturing images around the world. His expansive collection of over half a million images of various photographs have been featured widely in publications and photo agencies around the world, including the Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World, and Architectural Heritage of the Gulf, of which he is co-author. He has also authored the five volume Off-road in the Emirates book series, inspired by his love of exploration and the wilderness. His fine art photography has appeared in over 20 books and numerous magazines, and can be found in corporate collections such as Reuters, Land Rover, Nestle, Emirates Airlines and more.