The world-renowned interior designer selects favourite objects from our forthcoming Interiors sale in London, opening up about his process, the questions he asks himself before starting a new project — and the one space he’d love to get his hands on
Stockholm-born interior architect and designer Martin Brudnizki founded his studio, MBDS, in 2000. Today the firm boasts more than 70 architects, interior designers, lighting specialists, art consultants and more, with offices in London and New York. Brudnizki’s team has worked on some of the most prestigious design projects around the world, with clients including the Royal Academy of Arts, Soho House, Nobu and Daniel Boulud.
Ahead of the Interiors auction at Christie’s London on 13 September, we invited Martin — fresh from designing the new interiors of fabled Mayfair club Annabel's — to select and style his favourite lots from the sale. We caught up with him later to discuss his selections, and to find out more about his design philosophy and process.
Tell us about your selection for this shoot. What drew you to these objects and this combination in particular, and how do they reflect your design philosophy?
Martin Brudnizki: ‘There was much excitement when I saw the initial list of lots for the upcoming Interiors sale. It had such variety, being built around three major collections and featuring a mix of old and new. Combining different periods is a key component of my design process and we had the entire spectrum of good taste to choose from; whether that be Napoleonic portraits or Marcel Breuer chairs.
‘Aside from the diversity of the collection, I really admire the playful aspect to the majority of the lots. We have two beautiful chairs shaped like shells that create a wonderfully surreal experience; two elegant 19th-century stools upholstered in leopard print that give off Madeleine Castaing vibes; a couple of side tables with swords for legs; and a pair of polychrome table lamps with figures of saints at the base.
‘There are so many pieces that possess such a strong raison d'être that it’s made my job of styling a selection easy and immensely pleasurable. I’m sure these pieces will ignite the same sense of fun in the spaces they go on to inhabit.’
How would you describe your design philosophy? What makes for a great design?
MB: ‘I don’t so much have a philosophy as a process, whereby I place the context and the client at the heart of any design. I prefer to create without ego, ensuring that the interior harnesses the heritage and unique character of the space.’
How do you feel your work has evolved over the years?
MB: ‘It’s hard for me to answer that question because my work responds to the world around me, and that world has certainly changed a lot.
‘For instance, in hospitality we’ve seen a shift in how people experience hotels. They are now much more than simply places to sleep; they need to work with the communities they sit within.’
What questions do you ask yourself before you begin any new project? What does that initial process look like?
MB: ‘The first step is studying the client’s objectives and learning about the history of the building or area. Only then will I move on to layouts, ensuring the interior flows seamlessly in its functionality. Once we have an idea of the floor plan, then we can start talking about aesthetics.’
Is there one space in particular that you would love to get your hands on?
MB: ‘Argyll House is a beautiful property on the King’s Road in London that I frequently drive past. Built in 1723 by Venetian architect Giacomo Leoni (also responsible for the south range at Lyme Park, one of my favourite country houses), it was famously the London house of Lady Sybil Colefax and hosted many extravagant parties in its time. It feels like a small country house in Chelsea and would be a wonderful project.’
What are your greatest design inspirations at the moment?
MB: ‘Having just completed the interiors for Annabel’s, I was able to work with some incredible artisans. One that comes to mind are Ardmore, a group of South Africa-based ceramicists who create lamps resembling hybrid sculptures of plants and animals.
‘Done in the highly decorative African tradition, they offer a wonderful insight into the influences of their local region, in this case the Champagne Valley of KwaZulu Natal. They pair rural potters, who mould the ceramics, with local artists, who paint them, so that each piece is unique and represents a highly innovative and collaborative work of art.’