Profile: Martin Brudnizki – cool, calm and creative
Martin Brudnizki has risen to prominence thanks to a strong mix of business and creative skills plus a flair for injecting style into the most hospitable of spaces
by Kate Burnett
Should a Hollywood casting director be looking for a role model for an interior designer, Martin Brudnizki would be a very likely source of inspiration. He combines a cool and very collected exterior with a sharp intellect and a great eye for detail. His designs have been widely acclaimed but he has also demonstrated an astute business sense, growing his practice – Martin Brudnizki Design Studio – to almost 70-strong, with offices in both London and New York serving a global client base.
Since 2000 Brudnizki’s name has been attached to a rollcall of some of the world’s most fashionable bars, restaurants and hotels including Scotts, The Ivy, and Sexy Fish in London, and The Beekman Hotel in New York and Cecconi’s in LA. Among the projects his team are currently working on is Annabel’s, one of London’s most celebrated and exclusive nightspots.
Brudnizki’s designs are often described as sexy, but the sexiness really lies in the feelings his spaces create. This is his forte – understanding the clientele a particular location wants to attract, and the atmosphere he needs to create for them.
“It’s all about the experience now,” underlines Brudnizki, “whether it be from dining in the hotel restaurant to relaxing in the hotel spa. As a designer, this has meant we now approach a project differently – our aim is to craft an experience which will enhance a guest’s stay, whether that’s through creating a residential-style bar lounge or designing a cosy, welcoming restaurant that feels like a neighourhood haunt.”
As a leading player in hospitality design, Brudnizki is, of course, keenly aware of the trends at play. But his schemes avoid following any fickle interior fashions. “There’s a deep sense of timelessness to each project. I wouldn’t say we necessarily have a signature style but all our projects are beautifully layered and exude a strong sense of history. Clients often tell me that what we create feels like it has always been there, which I think derives from a sense of comfort and layering I instil in my interiors.”
Brudnizki was born in Sweden, as the son of German and Polish parents. After studying economics there, he moved to London in 1990 and began to develop his creative talents. “Growing up in Stockholm opened my eyes up to brilliant design. Gunnar Asplund was a big inspiration in how he created modern forms from a classical starting point. Josef Frank, in terms of his colour palette and patterns. And the artist Carl Larsson, who incorporated folk motifs into his work. As I got older and studied architecture in London, I came to appreciate a wider range of architects from Carlo Scarpa to Renzo Mongiardino.”
This range of inspiration underlines Brudnizki’s flexibility, which is the key to his success and becomes evident in the range of his work. “I don’t seek a specific style in my work,” he stresses, “but focus on an approach that produces different results depending on who the client is. Essentially, I leave my ego at the door and let my client become the priority. Also, I have great teams in London and New York who all work with immense focus and professionalism.” “Every project starts with an evaluation of the client, the project’s location and its history, as well as understanding of an emotion. Getting these basics established early on in the process is invaluable; you have to understand who and what you are working with, otherwise you’re never going to create something that flows.”
As well as creating striking projects, Brudnizki has begun to move into product design in recent years, founding &Objects in 2015 with Nick Jeanes, a former colleague. In the last two years they have worked with a series of leading UK manufacturers, such as Drummonds, Christopher Farr, Porta Romana and George Smith. “We set it up because so often we were designing a project which needed bespoke items which were being out-sourced. We thought we can do this ourselves, so &Objects was born. It brings in a lot of my flexibility and it also allows us to be really creative with furniture, fabrics and lighting.”
2017 has proved a landmark year: “Throughout my career as a designer, I have felt various moments of evolution”, reflects Brudnizki. “Firstly in 2006, when I designed Scott’s in London, and secondly when we created Soho Beach House Miami in 2010. At the moment it feels similar, in terms of the scale of the projects we’re working on – from Annabel’s in London to a Six Senses Ski Resort in Kitzbuhel, to creating a new restaurant in Dallas – taking the studio onto a more international stage. All our projects are so varied, it is a really interesting time to be working as a designer.“
“Annabel’s is an incredibly exciting project which I am honoured to be working on. The new site has moved two doors down, to 46 Berkeley Square. It now encompasses a whole townhouse and also includes a day club. It’s a bit like Alice fell down the rabbit hole: many, many layers. A never ending collection of fabrics, tassels, and trims, and some really exciting surprises thrown in, too. The whole club encompasses the theme of flora and fauna, with each floor taking inspiration from a different garden painting.“