M artin Brudnizki’s designs for London's Annabel's, New York's Beekman Hotel, Paris' Le Chardenoux and Hong Kong's Fortnum & Mason are the stuff of Instagram dreams. Between completing venues in St. Barts and Zurich and working on a new Manhattan restaurant, the Swedish architect and designer, famed for his colorful, eclectic approach, invited Sotheby’s to his characteristically quirky New York apartment. “When looking through the catalogue, I knew a few of the artworks instantly suited certain spaces,” Brudnizki said of his experience creating vignettes around lots from the Master Paintings Evening Sale on 29 January. “The Madonna should be next to the bed. The Poussin fit perfectly in between the windows. The Panini sitting on top of the tapestry with the foliage engulfed the classical scene wonderfully.” Below, view the AD100 designer’s unexpected combinations and learn his best tips for integrating Old Masters into contemporary interiors.
How would you describe the role art plays in your designs?
Art is often the most visible part of an interior. As designers we spend years perfecting the architectural and structural plans, ensuring the building or interior works seamlessly. But more often than not the thing people remark on is the final layer: the furniture, fabrics, lighting and, of course, art. It can make or break the scheme and is a wonderful storytelling device.
Maximalist interiors often get a bad rap for being viewed as stuffy and dated. How would you argue against this misconception?
I like to think less about maximalism and more about romanticism. For me it is more about conjuring a feeling of glamour mixed with comfort. The various different layers we can use should reflect your personality. It doesn’t have to be a million different aspects clashing at once, but it does have to transport you into your own world.
As you’ve mentioned, layering is an integral part of your process and aesthetic. When do you know a room is truly done?
The same way you know a Christmas tree feels right – after you have placed all the decorations, swapped a few around, created the right balance around the tree, and you finally stand back and think that it works. There are always more branches to place baubles and spaces to display stars. Similarly a room is never really finished. It should constantly evolve.
What is appealing to you about Old Masters?
I’m interested in the history and mystery of the painting – the idea that for hundreds of years humans have looked at this painting, and it has looked back. And from that aspect, you can delve into provenance and research all sorts of interesting things.
Do you have any advice for incorporating Old Masters into contemporary spaces?
In modern spaces Old Masters tend to look best when placed alone with space around them to breathe. Here, they seem to project from the walls of a contemporary building with added texture and depth when compared to a typical salon-style hanging in a country house.
If you could take home any of the paintings you worked with from the auction, which would it be?
I love Venice, so the Canaletto would be high on the list. Although the Liotard portrait would fit the proportions of my country house in England perfectly.