Over the last 25 years Martin Hulbert has built a reputation as one of the UK’s top interior designers. His high profile clients, both private and commercial, range from the Dorchester Collection, the Royal Yacht Britannia, the QE2, Chewton Glen, Cliveden House and Barnsley house, to private houses and apartments all over the world.
Martin Hulbert Design was established in 2010 by Martin, working with his long-time colleague, fellow designer Jay Grierson. The two have worked together for over ten years and together they are currently working on a private villa, estate and gardens in Tuscany as well as private houses in London, Moscow and the Caribbean. Commercial commissions include work for a hotel in Bath and two hotels and a restaurant in one of the hottest destinations on the planet – Cartagena in Colombia.
Martin has recently transformed the reception area, the bar and the dining room of The Abbey Hotel in Bath. The new owner worked closely with Martin on the design concept, where the brief was to reignite the spirit of hospitality that would have been alive and well in the 18th century when fashionable visitors came to take the waters at Bath. The hotel needed to find itself and reaffirm its individuality with a sense of fun restored, but re-invented in a contemporary way.
From the outside, The Abbey Hotel is an imposing and elegant Georgian building right in the heart of Bath, close to the famous Pulteney Bridge. MHD’s response to the brief was to create a colourful, eclectic but deeply comfortable feel for the bar and the restaurant. The first step was to move the bar so that it could be seen by guests as soon as they entered the hotel, creating a welcoming atmosphere. The furniture is an eccentric mix of old leather chairs, Georgian furniture and contemporary items. The chandelier, made from 2000 vintage wine glasses, is a definite talking-point. Martin Hulbert Design used as many local suppliers as possible, for example for the hand-blown glass. They also found many treasures in local antique shops.
House of Coco caught up with Martin to find out about his past, present and future plans.
How did you discover interior design?
I don’t know, I didn’t really think about doing anything else.
How would you describe your style?
Insightful and highly considered. Quite often a mixture of traditional and contemporary.
What was the first ever project that you worked on?
The first project I ever worked on was a set design for chat show for the BBC.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? Do you have a specific research process when starting a scheme?
We draw insertion from all sorts of places and there is no specific process. The process is often defined by the brief and the type of client we are working with. For example sometimes we start with a few images. It might be a painting, a fabric or a colour. We tend to adapt our process in a way that we feel our clients will understand.
What has been the proudest moment in your career?
Thankfully there have been many proud moments, winning awards for our projects is always good.
Is there a space in which you find yourself continuously drawn to because of the beautiful interior?
The V&A – not just for the interior but also for the beautiful objects inside.
What is your favourite era of design and why?
I think it has to be the time were working in. It is so exciting to be able to be creative and to have clients who allow us to realise our ideas.
Who are your favourite designers currently working in the industry?
Ilse Crawford for her mixture of styles.
We are very impressed by the recent transformation of The Abbey Hotel in Bath. Did you have a specific brief to fulfil and do you think you achieved it?
The brief was to create a theatrical interior, which will become a destination within Bath. The finished project is a unique combination of new and old combined together to create an exciting interior on a very low budget.
The interior design consists of a mixture of new/found and recycled items.
Combined together in an artful way to create energy, humor and atmosphere. The strong colours are inspired by the vibrancy and decadence of Baths rich and flamboyant history.
Are there any interiors that you are just itching to get your hands on?
There are many, I always wanted to do a theatre set for the royal ballet.
What exciting new projects do you have on the horizon?
We are working on a hotel in south America as well as new hotel and residential projects in London.