Designing extravagant interiors can be a dangerous game; in hesitant hands, it’s all to easy to fall into the realm of the tacky. If you have the taste, talent and conviction of London and New York based interior designer Martin Brudnizki though, then a den of decadence can transport you to another dimension.
Just take a look at his über-opulent, floor to ceiling redesign of infamous Mayfair club Annabel’s, where there isn’t a square inch which hasn’t been gilded, dressed in murals or covered in pink petals – all with a delicious touch of humour.
We chatted with Martin to discover his design secrets, how we can bring some extravagance into our own homes and the one interior trend he cannot abide.
What originally inspired you to become an interior designer?
I studied economics at university and knew it wasn’t really for me, I was much too creative having grown up in a home that was entrenched in art and design; my mother was a stylist and my father an engineer, the combination of which greatly influenced me. Shortly after studying, on a trip to London, I met up with an old school friend who was now studying interior design. He showed me his work and I thought “I can do better than that” and as they say, the rest is history!
How would you describe your style?
I’d say my personal style is quite eclectic, I love bringing together art, pattern and colour in a seamless and imaginative way. My home is full of personality and colour yet feels incredibly comfortable and lived in, it’s not fussy and cold. From a work point of view, I am also bold with my decisions but also guided greatly by the client. At the end of the day, I leave my ego at the door and let their personality, or brand’s personality, shine through. Once I’ve completed the project, the space has to reflect them and work on a business level.
Could you talk us through the ideas behind your recent Annabel’s redesign?
Annabel’s has been a once in a lifetime project and a very exciting brand to work with. It’s iconic and everyone has fond memories of the original club. However, the client wanted to move away from this and create a new Annabel’s that would work for today’s London. This gave me a lot of flexibility with the design so I drew on the themes of flora and fauna, as depicted throughout history and art. Along with the client, I created a narrative that each room would be a different garden, reflective of what each space would be used for: the fall of man in the Garden of Eden down in the basement nightclub, the genteel elegance of the English Garden in the Rose Room and Garden Terrace and the exoticism of the east in the Elephant Bar.
The Coral Room bar at The Bloomsbury Hotel with artwork by Luke Edward Hall
You commissioned Papier collaborator Luke Edward Hall to create a series of artworks for the Coral Room bar in The Bloomsbury Hotel. What drew you to his work for that project?
I’ve been friends with Luke for a number of years and have always admired his work. He’s very skilled and has that ability to make everything look effortless. We also share the same enjoyment of bold colours and patterns. Luke was a perfect fit for The Coral Room, not least because of our studio’s use of colour but also because of the building’s relevance to the iconic Bloomsbury Group. We commissioned Luke to create a series of over 40 drawings and paintings, all of which reflected the hotel’s location, it’s proximity to the influential British Museum and the intellectual and artistic dynamics of the Bloomsbury Group.
Which is the room that has had the biggest impact on you?
I don’t think I will ever not be floored by the exquisite architecture and decorative interiors of Rome. I recently visited the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, whose interiors are breathtaking.
University Arms Hotel, Cambridge
What one item can instantly change a room?
Artwork. I always recommend to my clients to include some form of art in their projects. It doesn’t need to be expensive but I always think it should have an effect on you and draw a correlation with the project. A well-chosen painting or even sculpture can have a really positive effect on reviving an interior. Adding planting to an interior is also a great way to introduce life and vibrancy to a scheme. There’s something quite grounding about bringing something living into a room, it has a relaxing effect I find.
What advice would you have for anyone wanting to inject some extravagant design into their home?
I love using seagrass fabric on my walls at home, it adds another dimension to your look as well as an interesting texture. It feels very luxurious so I would recommend trying something like this opposed to your usual wall paint or paper.
If there was one interior design trend (past or present) that you could banish forever, what would it be?
Harsh, white LED lighting and spotlights. No one looks good in them.