It’s only interior designer and television personality Martyn Lawrence Bullard’s first day in Hong Kong and he’s already embroiled in a celebrity drama despite being an ocean away from Hollywood. He sweeps up to our table at Café Gray Deluxe, having just taken a call from his Los Angeles office. A celebrity client, Khloé Kardashian, had been followed to his office by a pack of paparazzi baying for a comment about Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out. Unable to leave via the main entrance, the intrepid Kardashian tried to escape through a bathroom window—only to get stuck. The call Bullard had received was from the local fire station seeking permission to break his client out of the window.
London-born Bullard, who is currently working on the Los Angeles home Kardashian bought from Justin Bieber earlier this year, is unruffled by the incident. Considering that he counts Elton John, Kid Rock, Felicity Huffman and the Olsen twins among his clientele, and that he’s one of the stars of the reality TV show Million Dollar Decorators, such dramas must be old hat for him.
Bullard's backyard at his Los Angeles home
Bullard has a long association with celebrities—he got his start in interior design with show-business clients, an impressive feat, given that interior design wasn’t the career he’d imagined for himself. Bullard had initially travelled to Hollywood as an aspiring actor. After landing a part in the 1998 film
I Woke Up Early the Day I Died, he befriended one of the producers, and invited the executive and his girlfriend over for dinner one night. The producer was so impressed with Bullard’s home decor that he asked him to design his offices.
“I did it for fun and because I thought I’d get another movie,” Bullard recalls. “But the day the offices were finished, Capitol Records’ [vice-president of new media] Liz Heller called me and said, ‘Oh, my god, this is amazing. Will you come and do my offices?’ I thought, ‘I’ve always wanted to be a pop star; maybe I’ll do it and she’ll give me a record deal.’”
Inside Bullard's kitchen
No record deal ensued, but Bullard was invited to Heller’s wedding, where he was seated next to actress and model Cheryl Tiegs, who is popularly regarded as the first American supermodel. “She hired me to do her new house,” Bullard says, “which was crazy because she’d interviewed literally the top designers in America. Within nine months, I was on the cover of magazines around the world.”
Read the full story in the September 2015 issue of Hong Kong Tatler