Meet Martin, the magic maker
The designer who helps people ‘escape the drudgery of life’ tells Harriet Dennys how to turn up the theatre
Martin Brudnizki is the man behind the theatrical glamour of Scott’s, Le Caprice and The Ivy: the London restaurants where celebrities go to become part of the show. The Swedish interior designer says his job designing upscale establishments is about “creating a sense of place, an experience” to help people “escape the drudgery of life”.
At Sexy Fish, the Mayfair restaurant owned by his longstanding client Richard Caring, Brudnizki installed a glittering Frank Gehry crocodile, bronze mermaids sculpted by Damien Hirst, a gold ceiling mural by Michael Roberts and an onyx floor shipped from Iran. “Once you are through those doors, you are transported,” he says.
He is currently working on the £55million transformation of Caring’s Mayfair nightclub, Annabel’s. True to opulent form, Brudnizki and the team at his west London interiors practice, Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, are creating a suite of rooms in the basement of the Berkeley Square club, complete with precious stone fireplace surrounds, mirrored ceilings, animal heads and glass wall panels that glow. The club’s redesign takes the sense of theatre found in all Brudnizki’s interiors to a new level. He calls it “an extreme scheme”.
Brudnizki developed his design aesthetic as a child growing up in Stockholm, encouraged by his mother, who trained as a retail merchandiser and commercial interior designer. He recalls visiting school friends’ houses and being appalled by their “ghastly” late-Seventies decor, such as swirling orange and brown plastic wallpaper. “I saw such horrible things I had to leave, because it was giving me headaches,” he says.
At the age of 12, Brudnizki went through a minimalist phase, and painted his bedroom completely white, with white furniture and a white carpet. He soon got minimalism “over and done with” and by working for interior designers Michael Wolfson, David Gill and David Collins,
evolved his signature style to “minimalism deluxe”. Today, the award-winning designer’s London apartment is filled to the rafters with furniture and art, but the throwntogether effect is heavily curated. His sitting room has 30 lamps, placed at four different heights for optimum lighting, and his Ikea kitchen units have been upgraded by adding marble splashbacks and counters. “I’m creating a method in the madness through carefully mixing patterns, placing each piece of art, each object, to make it feel randomly collected over years,” he says. Brudnizki encourages those hoping to re-create his exuberant interiors in their own homes to be bold with brightly
Reflecting the opulence: a new mirrored room at Annabel’s, above, and sketches for the bars, below