Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Live, Love & Decorate with Martyn Lawrence Bullard

Last Tuesday, the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center, ADAC, had a very special guest speaker. For those of you that watched Million Dollar Decorator last summer, you would have immediately recognized Martyn Lawrence Bullard, MLB.

MLB on the right

MLB has a new fabric line for F. Schumacher and was at ADAC to talk about the launch of this new line and his new book Live, Love and Decorate.

Martyn was joined on the panel, in the ADAC seminar room, by Clinton Smith, the editor of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyle Magazine, and Susan North who is the creative director of F. Schumacher.

Clinton Smith on the left and Susan North on the right

The presentation room was standing room only as the designers turned out to hear the  "designer to the celebrities." Martyn said his inspiration for the fabric collection came from his travels. His father was an opera singer and the family traveled with him. MLB was inspired by the varied colors, food, music and smells of the exotic places he went.  He attended the Royal Academy of Arts in London. While there, he spent time prowling the stalls at the Greenwich Antiques Market in south London for unique items and then resaleing them. He also did a turn on the catwalk as a runway model. After saving up enough money, he headed to Hollywood to become a "star." He got a role in a movie and became friends with the producer, who after seeing Martyn's rental house, asked him to help him with his offices. From there he got a job with Liz Heller decorating her office and home. He was seated next to Cheryl Tiegs at Liz's wedding and she asked him to help her with  her new home a 1950's bungalow. A star was born, but not exactly the star he had planned, from that point on he never looked back!

Cheyl Tiegs
He went on to design for celebrities such as Cher, Elton John , Eva Mendez, Ozzie and Sharon Osbourne. Keenan Ivory Wayans and Kid Rock to name a few.

Elton John


Ozzie & Sharon Osbourne

Ozzie & Sharon Osbourne

Kid Rock

When asked about how he began to design a new fabric line, MLB said he always starts with a signature piece and then adds the supporting cast. He pulls from many cultures. The tree of life is from India. The ikats are from Pakastain and greek key from Greece.

The tree of life is the signature piece.

Adras Ikat


the collection

In this line he had a beautiful paisley that was inspired from antique shawls. He wanted an aged feeling to the line. He desire to give an old classic a new fresh look. This fabric is very versitle in that it can be used by cutting the borders off for beautiful drapery banding and then using the center for pillows.

center of paisley

One of the questions Clinton Smith asked MLB was "What were some of the challenges in designing the fabric line? He replied that the big challenge was the way they tried to make it layer together without it being an exact match. Because it wasn't matchy matchy, it had more interest. He wanted a lot of color in the collection, but as it developed he also included a more neutral group of taupes and grays.

Both MLB and Schumacher had the same point of view for the collection. To take something rooted in the past and see it with new eyes. A desire to explore it with a modern interpretation.

Martyn has new products coming out from tile, flooring and lighting to a line of eco friendly cleaning products. He wants to associate himself with eco friendly products. He discussed this in an article with the Buzz:

I believe the use of natural fibers such as linen, cotton, and raw silk always lends itself to a tasteful interior. It’s also eco-friendly, which is of great importance to me now. My project with Keenan Wayans is a huge learning curve for me. It is imperative for the planet that we all start to think in an eco friendly and sustainable manor. Reclaimed materials, local products, energy saving appliances and solar panel heating are major elements in this movement…and of course the use of antiques is ultimately the greenest.
You can read the interview here:

He has been asked to do many endoresements and will be the new face of Jaquar. He also was asked to be the new face for "men's Spanxs," but he turned that one down!

After the program, Schumacher welcomed the design community to their showroom for a champagne reception, to view the new line and  book signing for Martyn's book. I was able to get him to sign a copy for me and also to chat with him. He has the most beautiful english accent! Quite elegant!

 Martyn's philosophy is "In anything you do in life, don't do it unless you are going to do it 100%." And he certainly has!

Source: ADAC, Schumacher and Live, Love and Decorate.

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