It's hard to find anyone who understands the differences between British and American design more than Martyn Lawrence Bullard.
The London-born designer has built an enviable clientele list on both sides of the Atlantic (Tommy Hilfiger's Connecticut mansion and Winnie Harlow's LA sanctuary are among just some of his US-based projects), and with his international success comes a wealth of knowledge about design differences in each country.
'When asked about the differences between British and American design specifically, I think of the age-old saying, an Englishman's home is his castle,' Martyn shared in an exclusive interview with H&G.
'British people have always loved design. This traditional country decor has inspired interiors worldwide, and it keeps inspiring – and that’s something wonderful.'
'Another interesting thing about British design is its global influences, remnants of the empire. In the UK, you can go into any country house, and you'll see a table from Morocco, a frame from India, and a chair from Persia. It's always been an eclectic melting pot of international design.'
Alternatively, American design is rooted in a more laid-back and accessible approach.
'In the past, American designers tended to be more relaxed. California style, for instance, is a much more casual, open, and accessible experience that is more laid-back. It's also influencing how we design worldwide,' he explains.
However, while the craving for relaxed interiors prevails in the US, the designer explains a new desire for more experimental color trends and even more multifunctional spaces.
Martyn is a world-class talent and the largest award-winning designer and author based in Los Angeles. He is known for his trademark glamour and flair for the exotic as he curates sophisticated and inviting interiors for Hollywood A-listers and global glitterati, including Kendall Jenner, Khloe Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Tommy Hilfiger, Cher, Ellen Pompeo, and Eva Mendes, to name a few.
'We're seeing a real passion for joy. Since the pandemic, people want joy in their lives – they want more color and to create spaces that can be used in many different ways.' For example, people now want their dining room to double as an office, a library, or a family game room.
'This is the biggest evolution in design that's happening right now, and it’s something we’ve never seen before,' Martyn says. 'It’s making design more fun and useable. There is an American-based relaxed flavor that is changing the way people worldwide are designing their houses.'
As mentioned, Martyn has worked with a host of celebrities, including Elton John and Cher, the latter of whom composed the forward to his new book, Star Style. However, regardless of his location, Martyn explains that he designs the overall home to reflect his client's style, whether they want an English country cottage-style living room in Malibu or a Cali-cool bedroom in London.
'Celebrities are interested because I don't have one particular style. I don't decorate in one look. I don't want people to walk into a room and associate it with me. Instead, I want them to walk in and say: 'this feels like you' to whoever the homeowner may be,' he says.
'Whether it's a restoration of an 18th-century country house in Ireland, a disco-flavoured apartment for Elton John, or an Indian palace for Cher, I designed all these places in a wild way, but they're all designed as a reflection of the celebrity and not necessarily as a stamp of me.'
'That's one of the things that I love about my work, and that keeps us inspired. It's always ever-changing, ever-evolving, and totally, utterly custom.'
In his third book, Martyn Lawrence Bullard takes you inside celebrity homes in Star Style, a collection of sensational, eclectic interiors.
As Martyn explains, each country may have its personal, quintessential interior style, but it's possible to follow whichever look we choose, wherever we may be. What matters is finding a look that works for us, both aesthetically and practically, so we can create a 'castle' of our own.
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Megan is the News and Trends Editor at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes. As the News Editor, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.
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