Martin Waller: Design Quest
With a celebrity clientele including Ridley Scott and Victoria Beckham, and set design for the likes of Gladiator and Harry Potter, Martin Waller is much in demand
Way back in 1978, Martin Waller set up his interior design business, Andrew Martin, in Richmond, before settling on Chelsea’s Walton Street, where he remains to this day. Victoria Beckham and Tom Ford shop there, and he has designed Ridley Scott’s private residence. He also established the annual International Interior Designer of the Year Awards and ‘bible’, the Andrew Martin Interior Design Review.
What was your hope when you initially set up the awards?
There was a great void in the recognition of extraordinary talent in interior design and I wanted to put designers on a global stage. Now in its 23rd year, it has grown exponentially. I’m proud of the myriad assortment of judges, from Twiggy to Gordon Ramsay, Darcey Bussell to the Duchess of York and the realm of inspirational designers: Kelly Hoppen recently named winning as the greatest achievement of her career.
What is the ethos behind your rather beautiful and unusual showroom?
Our showroom on Walton Street is the modern-day reinterpretation of Aladdin’s cave, full of treasures I have found around the world and mixes ancient artefacts with the outlandishly new. From a giant Hanuman sculpture and an array of Andean textiles to big neon poster boards and walls covered in digital infinity mirrors, it’s trippy, energetic and inspirational, like a toybox of design to which no two visits are the same.
You’ve been called the ‘Indiana Jones of the design world’. Tell us more about your adventures.
Travel is the great luxury of our generation. It gives us the opportunity to see and absorb cultures, peoples and eras so different from our own. I have hunted mammoth in Siberia, encountered headhunters in Nagaland and explored lost cities in Guatemala. My collection of ancient Egyptian funeral masks is my favourite find. They serve as a beautiful reminder of our mortality.
You’ve designed for film sets, hotels and homes – what do you love doing the most?
Projects are like children, you love them all equally but they each have challenging moments. That’s where the fun is. I have always enjoyed working with movie designers, who are brilliant talents; stepping into M’s office in the Bond films was a thrill. More recently, we put the Apollo 11 in an office design, still fully intact and decked out for an internal meeting room. That was pretty cool.
Tell us about your own home.
Each room tells its own a story: my hallway is light and airy, the living room is dark and glamorous with a whisper of Asian allure, the library is full of books, vintage toys from my childhood and relaxed leather Chesterfields.
What is next for you?
In a few weeks, I’m heading to Cambodia to search for temples beyond Angkor Wat. Who knows the adventures that will bring…