Interior Designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard

Interior Designer Martyn Lawrence-Bullard

The interior designer talks TV shows, his growing brand, and relationships with celebrities.
November 09, 2012

World-renowned interior designer and decorator to the stars Martyn Lawrence-Bullard is upping his already skyrocketing status by reprising his role in the hit Bravo TV show Million Dollar Decorators for a second season (premieres Tuesday, November 13 at 10/9 c). In addition to his TV appearance, Bullard shares that he is also filming, producing, and starring in his own design show in England.

His brand, Martyn Lawrence-Bullard Design, is growing, too. Come spring 2013, Lawrence-Bullard will add jewelry and men’s fashion to his line of already-successful rug, furniture, fabric, and candles. You can also expect to see the luxurious Martyn Lawrence-Bullard Design more within the next year, since Bullard recently signed licensing deals with the world’s largest and most famous crystal, tile and bathroom, and tabletop companies. Despite his busy schedule, Lawrence-Bullard made time to share his incredible experiences and stories with us.

Let’s talk about the show. What happens this season—any drama?

MARTYN LAWRENCE-BULLARD: The volume is going to be turned up from last season. I do quite a lot with Mary [McDonald], which didn’t happen last season. She and I travel to India together, and we do a design collaboration for One Kings Lane, and the sales air live during the broadcast of the show. We design kind of an incredible tabletop and [find] holiday gifts and a whole bunch of things; everything is made and filmed in India, so that’s going to be a really wild part of the show. I travel extensively during the show and open up my family to the show a little bit.

How did you manage to incorporate your family?

MLB: I design a pub for my sister in England—an extraordinary18th-century pub that used to be Napoleon’s lover’s home. We show the trials and tribulations of, number one, working with your family, and number two, opening in a timely fashion. It’s really cute because it really shows a part of English culture. The pub is such a part England’s experience, and so interesting that my sister, at the ripe old age of 55, has decided to change her career and open a pub. It’s a completely new vibe. She owned fashion stores before and just decided to completely change paths and do this, so it will all unfold on the show.

Do we see any of the clients from the first season?

MLB: Of course we revisit some of our previous clients on the show this season, and there’s some really fun stuff going on in New York. There’s a whole new experience that goes on with Tamara Mellon—it’s very fashion-centric. I also decorate for the actress who has become very controversial lately, Stacey Dash.

Had the controversy hit at the time you were filming?

MLB: Actually, we filmed about a week before the whole political statement. So, that’s going to be interesting. [This season] there’s a lot of diversity, a lot of big-name celebrities that I cannot reveal to you yet, but it will add to the excitement. All of the cast members will have some really interesting clients this season, and I will be the one traveling everywhere.

You’ve managed to come to America and pave your way as one of AD’s Top 100 in Architecture and Design….

MLB: For the past seven years.

How have you managed to not only make these iconic celebrities your clients, and keep them coming back for more—every party, every home—but also cultivate such close friendships with them?

MLB: I was very lucky. My first client ever was supermodel Cheryl Tiegs. And I was very lucky again—after completing Cheryl’s house, my work ended up on the cover of seven magazines around the world. That house is still being published today, 15 years later. From Cheryl, it went to Rebecca Romijn and John Stamos, to Christina Aguilera, to Edward Norton.

The most important thing: when you’re working with celebrities, sometimes you end up knowing very deep secrets…. It is important [that] you know your boundaries. That’s why I have been so lucky with Elton John. I’ve ended up vacationing with him, I’ve been to all of his homes, flown all over the world to Africa and Hawaii, and same thing with Cher. I am spending Christmas with Ozzie and Sharon [Osbourne] this year. We’ve formulated really wonderful relationships because the design process is very personal, and if you understand how to work within each one of [the clients’] personalities, and respect their privacy, you can form a beautiful friendship.

What are some of the special requests you’ve been involved with, or special ways you’ve been able to be a part of your clients’ lives?

MLB: When you get involved in anyone’s life, people end up going past just, you know, ‘what color fabric should I put on that sofa,’ or ‘should I put drapes on that window,’ and so on. I’ve helped Aaron Sorkin pick out his tuxedo for The Oscars. I’ve had clients have me go with them to Chopard and Harry Winston to help them pick out their jewels to wear to their events. You end up very much styling their lives and very much a part of their lives, and that’s part of the honor of being in this business. Not really being looked at just for interiors—but as a tastemaker, and that’s really the whole excitement of it all for me.

—Abby Fender

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