LIVE TO DECORATE
MARTYN LAWRENCE BULLARD
Known as the go to interior designer by the likes of names such as Cher, Ellen Pompeo, the Kardashian’s and the Hilfiger’s. Martyn Lawrence Bullard proves to offer the ultimate design scheme fitting any client, style or location.
WORDS BY JACK FREEMAN AND IMAGES BY DOUGLAS FREIDMAN AND TIM STREET PORTER
Whilst it was an accident as to how Martyn ended up becoming one of America’s most prominent and loved international designers, he states “I fell into my career after following another career in London and Hollywood as an actor. That said I really always had the gene”.
The English born designer has become widely recognised for his ability to create individual looks matching his client’s own style and personality. He in fact turns their dreams into reality as each of his interiors represents complete sophistication and liveable luxury. The fantastical worlds Bullard conceives are theatrical and transport each owner into a world of their own.
The Hilfiger Residence Bullard designed in Miami Florida proves to showcase Bullard’s extraordinary talents as the beachfront home features an impressive infinity edge swimming pool, vibrant contemporary and post-war art collection including works by Jeff Koons, Keith Haring, Jean Michel Basquiat, Marc Quinn and Andy Warhol. This being one of the Hilfiger’s many trophy homes designed by Bullard threw a curve ball when they asked him to create something more modern and groovy in contrast to their worldly Plaza Penthouse in New York City and Traditional Manor House in Greenwich Connecticut. The home ultimately represents an escape from the hectic lives of such a prominent fashion designer and family to which Bullard thrived on, pushing the limits of design with adventurous bold colour palettes, neon lighting and unexpected sculpture.
Starring on Bravos Million Dollar Decorators, Bullard has become a celebrity himself receiving international accolade and success with his various home collection brands and collaborations including furniture, accessories, fabrics and wall coverings in addition to his book Live Love Decorate which offers readers “a glimpse into his glamorous world of dramatic spaces and exquisite detail”.
Talk us through the day in the life of Martyn Lawrence Bullard.
My days are never a standard routine. Life as a designer is full of surprises and twists and turns so an average day doesn't really exist. When in LA, my home base, the day usually starts with answering about 30 to 50 emails from my foreign clients and associates and a few from the east coast from bed whilst enjoying a cup of earl grey tea. Then I will grab a quick shower, a green protein shake and hit the road. I like an early morning round up with my staff before I hit the list of checking vendors for custom item updates and quality control, passing by my favourite resources for vintage and antique items which I try to do one stop a week per place to see their latest additions, leading onto the afternoons where I will often visit job sites, take client meetings and shopping expeditions or review plans for construction and interiors with architects and contractors. The end of the afternoon is a round up with the design assistants prepping for the next day's tasks and reviewing what has been done or collected for different projects. I will sit with my architectural team to look at their work and concerns and try to spare a few last minutes to review current product development, fabric colour ways and new strike offs. Dinner will either be with a visiting client, catching up with friends or my favourite, at home in front of the Television watching a great movie and cuddling with my dog Daisy.
What are you currently inspired by?
Travel is always my main inspiration. It's not a specific place or thing, just the whole experience. I believe we must always stay open to understand new things. My eyes are everywhere, taking in the beauty that surrounds us. It could be an orange hanging on a tree in Seville or an apple sitting in a pile at the grocery store! Colour, texture, shape all play a part in inspiration, as does smell, atmosphere, people and places. History inspires always, from visiting a castle to reading a design book on David Hicks or Renzo Mongiardino. To become inspired is just about being open to take in all that's around you and I strive to inspire myself daily with this mantra.
What made you decide to become a designer?
I became a designer almost by chance. I fell into my career after following another career in London and Hollywood as an actor. That said I really always had the gene. I actually paid my way through acting school by buying and selling antique Bric a Brac at local markets as a boy, which in turn actually taught me to understand decorative history, place of origin and period distinction. My career evolved through a love and passion for design and historic interiors, it was a natural progression and not really a career decision. One I am very happy to say I love and enjoy every day.
What projects have you currently been working on?
I am currently working around the globe with projects as far a field as Saudi Arabia, Istanbul, Paris and Italy with my US clientele reaching from Los Angeles to Connecticut, Rhode Island and Miami. I am working on the restoration of a fine Georgian mansion is Ireland, the famous Art Deco hotel 'the Raleigh' in Miami, the ancient Yesel Ev Hotel and Armand hotel in the walls of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul as well as the Californian hotel in Santa Barbara.
I am also currently designing the 60 apartments within the Four Seasons residences in Beverly Hills, new homes for Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, Ellen Pompeo, Tommy Hilfiger and both Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian.
My New book ' Design and Decoration' launches at the end of April and new product lines will launch before the end of the year including bedding, bathroom fixtures and new fabrics.
Where is your all time favourite travel destination of all time?
I'm a huge fan of Istanbul. The history and magic of the merging of cultures, religions and countries gives Istanbul an unbelievable air of mystery and intrigue. The people, places, food and ambiance is totally original and cannot help but inspire all who visit.
Where to next?
My next trip will be 3 days in Dublin, Ireland its a wonderful city and very fun to work in, where I will go to check on reclaimed floors for my current project, then three days in Istanbul to oversee a hotel model room development and following that three days in London to shop for vintage items and antique reclamation items to include in the architecture of my up-incoming projects.
Back to Los Angeles within 10 days, I never leave my main office base for more than that if possible, as I always like to keep on top of all my projects in development.
I collect watches and have done so since I got my first good watch on my 18th birthday. Most often I wear a vintage style classic Panerai diving watch in Rose gold with a brown alligator strap or the same model in stainless steel with a black strap, but today I have a yellow gold Cartier Santos 100 on that a favourite client gave me on my 40th birthday. My watches change with my mood and outfits and I really do love and enjoy them all. Unlike my accountant who freaks out every time a credit card bill comes in with a new one listed amongst my charges.
What would you say the fundamentals of a Martyn Lawrence Bullard residence consists of?
My design fundamentals always include my rules for a good interior. Comfort comes first! I believe modern luxury is comfort and I always instil this into my client’s homes. Deep, luxuriously soft upholstery customized to their rooms and spaces. I never want pieces that are just purely decorative, I hate guests to think they can't sit on something or touch it or even look to closely. All must be usable and function in one-way or another. Colour obviously plays a big role. I love to bring in colour to people's lives and enliven their homes with shades that bring happiness and atmosphere. I'm not afraid of pattern or mixing textures. I believe the world is our shopping centre and palette, and as such I like to blend cultures and styles. An eclectic interior will always offer up interest and most importantly reveal my clients personalities. I never want my interiors to be my signature rather I want them to be a window into my clients personalities and soul. That to me is a successful interior.