Posted in People on 15 February, 2016

From designing hospitality spaces in everything from art institutions to the world’s leading restaurants and hotels, Martin Brudnizki is clearly a jack of all trades – and a master of all. Can Faik meets interior design’s man of the moment and finds out what inspires and excites him…

Born in Stockholm, Martin Brudnizki is the founder of Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, an internationally renowned interior architecture and design studio founded in 2000 and based in London and New York. Primarily known for designing restaurants, private clubs and hotels, over the last decade his studio’s designs have been instrumental in redefining modern hospitality, with notable projects including work with Soho House, The Royal Academy of Arts and Caprice Holdings (The Ivy, Annabel’s, Scott’s). Martin is listed within the London Evening Standard’s 1000 Most Influential People in the UK, House and Garden’s Top 100 Leading Interior Designers, Debrett’s 500 Most Influential People in the UK and Wallpaper* Magazine’s Power 200; with the latter describing Martin as ‘one of the best restaurant and hotel designers of his generation’.

Tell me about your role at Martin Brudnizki Design Studio?

I founded Martin Brudnizki Design Studio more than 15 years ago and have since built it into a team of over 70 designers with Studio’s in both London and New York. I’m involved in and oversee the creative in every project; working very closely with my senior team of design directors and associates – many of whom have been with me over ten years.

What five words would you use to describe Martin Brudnizki Design Studio?

Informed, professional, collaborative, dedicated, creative.

How long have you been involved with hotel design? 

Since I started my career as an interior designer in the 1990’s…

Have you noticed any particular trends in hotel design?

There has definitely been a resurgence in the hotel restaurant. Since Roman times it was all about the ‘bed and board’, but somewhere along the way it all changed and hotel restaurants either became an afterthought to the main business of providing a bed for the night or obsessed with a type of fine dining that put a lot of people off. That is all changing though as the overall hotel offering and experience becomes part of the main attraction. It’s a great feeling to stay somewhere and know the best restaurant or bar in that city is just downstairs and you have unmitigated access.

With so many hospitality designers in the industry, how does Martin Brudnizki Design Studio stand out from the rest?

I would say it is a combination of things that come together much like a jigsaw. From a passion for quality materials, interesting patterns and furniture with great character; to an obsession with detailing; to choosing the craftsmen we work with carefully; to the prominence we place on functionality as well as aesthetics. Perhaps most importantly though, it is putting the client first. I’m always conscious we are creating a joint vision and I think the long standing relationships we have with clients stretching back over ten years is testament to this.

What is the biggest thing the company has learnt over its years in the industry?

Instinct…you have to trust your instinct.

What has been your favourite project to date?

It’s impossible to choose. Milestones for me have included the Studio’s first hotel, Villa Kennedy in Frankfurt; our first hotel in the US, Soho Beach House Miami; working in London on Scott’s, The Ivy, Annabel’s, Dean Street Townhouse and with the Royal Academy of Arts on The Academicians’ Room. As well as our designs around the world, including Cecconi’s West Hollywood, Sessanta in New York, Matsuhisa in St Moritz and Café Boulud in Toronto. As I said, it is impossible to choose!

What’s next for you?

We’re due to complete two hotels this summer. One is The Beekman in New York and the other is with Rocco Forte in Jeddah called the Asilah Hotel. We’re also working on a beautiful sixty-five-storey residential development in New York called 45 East 22nd Street in the Flatiron area. There’s plenty more in the pipeline though.

How would you define your ‘Hotel Style’?

I try to avoid having a distinct style. Instead we base our design on a myriad of different influences, from the building or neighbourhood the project is located in, to the operator and their offering. I think it’s important to push boundaries but always ensure what you have created stays true to the area.

What does design mean to you?

Design is incredibly important. Where we eat, sleep and drink is instrumental to defining our lifestyle and shaping how we engage with the world around us. A hotel or restaurant has the ability to improve an area and the lives of those who visit; our homes can not only make us feel comfortable but also more confident when designed correctly. Put simply, our interiors provide the framework from where we can explore a way of life – whether that is meeting new people, socialising with friends, sharing ideas or escaping into our own utopia.

What would be your dream hotel project?

This is a question with so many different answers. To choose one, it would be great to go back to Stockholm and work on one of the beautiful houses that overlook the archipelago.

Where currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?

I’m fortunate enough to travel a lot with my work and experience so many different cultures and so I enjoy a variety of different trips. My next vacation will be to Dominica in the Caribbean, which is a wonderfully lush and tropical island and quite different to others in the region. However I’ll also spend some time in Italy over the summer visiting Sienna and Florence. From the tropics to Tuscany – I enjoy it all.

Where do you see hotel design in the future?

Hotel design has become less standardised and more localised over the years at the same time the terms luxury and quality have become intertwined with lifestyle and experience. I believe this trend will continue to encapsulate the holistic hotel experience, in terms of what modern facilities and services we need in hotels that are perhaps specific to the location or a certain lifestyle. However, I’m also a firm believer in the importance of tradition and so it is important we not only add to the history of hotel design but retain the history we already have.

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