Born in Alabama, Joseph Braswell was educated at Birmingham Southern College and Parsons School of Design in New York. With his addiction to beauty and an irrepressible spirit, he took immediately to the city as it took to him and was soon plying his addiction, leaving beauty in his wake from Park Avenue to the Swiss Alps to Saudi Arabia. He was employed by Melanie Kahane, Raymond Loewy and Joseph B. Platt Associates. After his partnership with Inman Cook, he formed Braswell-Willoughby, Inc. in 1976 in partnership with Ward Willoughby. Projects included both Bergdorf Goodman and Bonwit Teller in New York; several royal residences in Saudi Arabia; Banque de Depot, Geneva, Switzerland; and a 450-foot private steamship in Bremerhaven, Germany. Braswell-Willoughby collaborated with Tom Lee Ltd. (headed by Hall of Fame inductee Sarah Tomerlin Lee) during the design of the Rye Town Hilton in Rye, New York.
Interior design was for Braswell a "spiritual quest." "Blessed are the beautifiers, for they see God in everything they do," he said. "This work may deal in things, but it is really, truly, at heart, about the people who occupy the space, use the things. If design is good, it makes the people whom it serves better people. It is very difficult to be mean-spirited in an uplifting environment. That, ultimately, is what I try, at my best, to deliver." His love of beauty and gifts for working with people made Braswell's residential work a favorite among some of the 20th Century's most powerful personalities, including captains of industry, moguls of media and even Saudi Arabian royalty. His designs not only graced the interiors of hundreds of residences in many of the world's most exclusive locales, but airplanes, palaces, offices, shops, restaurants and ships (including the M.Y. Alexander, the longest private yacht in the world).