Martyn Lawrence Bullard + Art Deco = A Love Affair For The Ages


Martyn Lawrence Bullard on the steps leading to the pool and gardens of his Los Angeles home. The graphic patio tile nods to Art Deco geometrics. (PHOTO: TREVOR TONDRO)

Luxe presents “Forces of Influence,” a three-part feature that spotlights designers as they reflect on an indelible spark. Learn what inspires Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Young Huh, and Rayman Boozer.


When I was 12 years old, I began my career selling antiques from a stall in London’s Greenwich Market. It was the 1980s then, and Art Deco was the height of fashion. It was one of the first design periods that I studied, and from that, my passion grew. 

Because I came from a theatrical background—originally, I wanted to be an actor—it’s only natural that I would be drawn to a style so closely associated with Hollywood glamour. With the advent of cinema, Los Angeles boomed during the 1920s and 1930s, and extraordinary spaces, like the Cicada Club in downtown L.A. and the historic Sunset Tower hotel, were built. 

For me, the appeal of Art Deco lies in its association with decadence. The world had just come out of World War I, and there was reason to celebrate. People wanted drama and floridity. We left behind the Edwardian and Arts-and-Crafts periods, and turned almost instantly to this brand-new era symbolized by ornate geometric forms. 

Of all the Art Deco styles, I’m particularly fond of Egyptian Revival. It conjures the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, and with that, an air of adventure, travel and romance. In my work and in my own home, many Orientalist and Moroccan motifs blend with the geometric vibe and monochromatic palette of Art Deco. 

Recently, I drew inspiration from the period to inform a collection of inlaid stone and lacquer accessories for SV Casa. We did a series of beautiful cases that open into bars, inspired by Hermès and Louis Vuitton steamer trunks from the 1930s. They recall one of the first Art Deco pieces I ever bought: a 1920s alligator case, which makes me long for the time when travel was new. In those days, people used silver- and-gold jars in sleek cases for toiletries. We used to travel in such style! I’ve kept it with me throughout my journeys. It’s a great nod to my past, both in my dealing in objects of that era and my love of Art Deco itself. 

— As told to Michelle Brunner