One of the exciting things that Maison offers young designers is the opportunity to meet and listen to industry legends on an international scale. Published designers who have dealt with the best of the best! People who I as a South African would under normal circumstances never get to meet.
I was fortunate enough to attend a talk by Martyn Bullard, designer to the stars! Those that do not know him, he is the designer to Cher, Ellen Pompeo (of Greys Anatomy fame), Tommy Hilfiger, and most famously the Kardashians amongst others. Have a look here for my post on the Kardashian properties he did. It was the first time in the history of Architectural Digest, that they had two different covers, two properties by the same designer in one issue, and incidentally the highest selling issue of all time. As Martyn stated himself, while he assumes it was because of the Kardashians, he would love to believe it was his work.
While he had some wonderful anecdotes of his celebrity clientele about how he met Ellen Pompeo at an awards evening when he attended as Cher’s +1, and ended up sitting between her and Anna Wintour, to having to keep spaces open for camera’s and lighting in the Kardashian properties to allow for filming, he gave some really good motivation and tips to a young designer like me:
- Travel is your biggest from of inspiration. Even if it is just a trip to the beach, you have to expose yourself to new things all the time to expand your design horizons.
- Always be alert to what is happening around you. That is how you spot trends as well as small details which you can use in a project. Cher’s curtains had a henna design died in Indian tea on them from a photo he took of her hand on a meeting after she had attended a wedding in India.
- You do not have to have attended the fanciest design schools to be a top designer. Mr Bullard has no formal training, but from a young age started to curate antiques (quite precociously he adds) and sell them at inflated prices to American tourists. It’s about having a passion for what you do.
- He only has a full-time staff compliment of 13 people. This interested the finance part of my brain a lot! With 2 design shows coming out, numerous collaborations from various maison’s from crystal to bedding, as well as his international corporate clientele and hotel groups, it amazed me that he could do all of that with such few staff.
And then I got to meet the man who was kind enough to pose for a selfie! True gentlemen and so eloquent and kind.