In the smarter parts of London, it can seem like you’re never more than 100 yards from a Martin Brudnizki interior. Take Mayfair, for example, where the Swedish-born, London-based designer has had a hand in everything from the elegance of Scott’s restaurant on Mount Street to the discreet charms of Little House, a private club. Or St. James, where the jewel-toned chaos of his Academicians’ Room at the Royal Academy of Arts is just a stone’s throw from the calm salmon and blue interior of Scandinavian restaurant Aquavit. “I’ve always been a modernist, having grown up in Sweden, but in London there’s so much history, you can’t ignore it,” Brudnizki says. “It’s taught me to create layered environments filled with a range of references from different periods.”
Brudnizki has been making his opulent mark on America as well. He completed his first project in L.A. ten years ago—a breezy California-style rethink of the chic Cecconi’s restaurant in West Hollywood—and recently had significant commissions pop up all over the country. The Beekman hotel, with its dusty velvets and dimly lit tasseled lamps, became a stylish New York hub the moment it debuted in 2016. And the glittering Bullion restaurant opened in Dallas late last year.
Currently he’s working on a redesign of the Park MGM in Las Vegas and the members area at the Surf Club in Miami, as well as a Thomas Keller restaurant there. “It’s going to be fresh and clubby,” says the designer of the classic timber paneling in very light oak and blue terrazzo floor with big white aggregates. “Thomas Keller is very involved: No waiter is ever allowed to have his or her back to the customers, so we’ve had to factor that into the design at every stage.”
This dedication to the brief, along with an instinctive ability for seamless layering and mixing of old and new, underpins Brudnizki’s success. First comes the forensic understanding of both client and location, and only then comes the outfitting of warm wood paneling, polished metal, cool marble, and brilliantly colored leather upholstery that defines his style. Now that he’s completed some successful rollouts, including 18 Ivy Club cafés and brasseries that spun off from the legendary London establishment, his world is entirely bespoke. “I’ve gone exclusively high-end,” he says. “Everything is site-specific.”
At Bullion in Dallas, being site-specific meant tailoring his interior to complement the restaurant’s podlike architecture by mega-firm Gensler. “It felt like a jewel box, so I responded to that first,” he says. “And I wanted a real glamour that I couldn’t find anywhere else in the city.” Walls are lined in highly polished rosewood, punctuated with glass and brass, and lit using products from Brudnizki’s own collection, And Objects.
In Las Vegas, Brudnizki has turned the central casino space of the Park MGM into an elegant ellipse surrounded by arches leading to restaurants and bars. One of the restaurants, Primrose, is saturated with natural light by day. It’s a move that, when the space opens in part in March, will rewrite the playbook for casino design. “It’s time Las Vegas lost that gloom,” he says.
But Brudnizki is about to make his biggest splash back in London, with his 21st-century remake of Annabel’s, the nightclub that has been synonymous with upper-class decadence since it first opened in 1963. “It’s the total maximalist fantasy, Alice in Wonderland,” says Brudnizki, who—perhaps as a holdover from an earlier modeling career—has a tiny touch of flamboyance himself. “Tassels, braids, a gold-leaf ceiling, a fabulous Gary Myatt mural. The ladies’ loos have a ceiling of silk flowers and pink onyx sinks.” When the new Annabel’s opens in March, it’s safe to predict that Brudnizki’s star won’t simply rise but will positively skyrocket.
Objects of Desire
Martin Brudnizki’s London apartment is filled with art and design from every period—“a mishmash,” he says. Here are a few of his favorite things.
VIRGILIO GUIDI PORTRAIT
I love this 20th-century Italian painting for its simplicity. It reminds me that sometimes less really is more. From the Gagliardi Gallery, London.
The 18th-century Piranesi was a madman. I love his sense of imagination at a time when neoclassicism was the mainstream. From Michael Finney Antique Prints, London.
17TH-CENTURY ZODIAC COIN AND DRAWING OF A MAN ON A HORSE
When my father escaped from Poland to Sweden just after World War II, he took three things with him, including a coin and
CHRISTIAN DELL BAUHAUS LAMP
It was my grandfather’s. Dell worked in the Bauhaus metalwork shops—an object born in the inner sanctum of the modernist movement.
VINTAGE BREGUET MARINE 3400BA
My partner bought me this watch for a recent birthday in Rome at Brandizzi Roma, a cute little jeweler off Piazza Navona that has been there since the 1880s. Via dei Coronari 12.