Jimmie Martin Throne Madonna Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show
Jimmie Martin, edgy, controversial and very rock & roll designs
Go to any IKEA outlet on any given day, in any given city the world over, and you’ll find functional, mass-produced items for your home. And we’re not knocking that, it serves a practical purpose–and let’s face it, it’s cheap.
But what if you’re someone who wants a stand out piece (or three) to really showcase their home and their sense of style? Like saving up for that sacred first pair of Jimmy Choos, some things are worth investing in. And if it’s individuality that floats your interior's boat, then enter Jimmie Karlsson and Martin Nihlmar–more famously known as the collective Jimmie Martin.
This multi award-winning duo originally hail from Sweden and – wait for it – they don’t have a formal background in design. They have something with far more currency – a grand passion. Jimmie Martin are known for their trademark custom pieces of furniture: a beautiful blend of traditional (often Baroque) with edgy, controversial and very rock & roll designs – and their pieces include chairs, table, cushions, wallpaper, mirror and some truly unforgettable lamps. Their work is really is art.
And their clients are as glamorous and diverse as their designs: Kylie Minogue, Kelly Osbourne, Liam Gallagher, Pete Townshend, the boys from The Prodigy.... and the Queen of them all – Madonna - who commissioned Jimmie Martin to design an elaborate ‘throne’ for her half time performance during one of the biggest sporting events in the US – Superbowl.
And so, it’s fair to say, design history was made when Madonna appeared in her Jimmie Martin throne before a staggering 113 million people worldwide.
Creative Mapping caught up with Jimmie himself to find out more about this two man phenomenon.
"We got shortlisted in Furniture Design and became Best New Designers in the UK – without selling a single piece!" Jimmie Martin
CM: You found a lot of inspiration from fashion from your modelling days – how did you make the transition from fashion to design?
I went to Japan with a modelling contract... everyone went there and came back with loads of money. Of course, the season I went, everyone was sent back with no money (laughs) because the economy was really bad. So, I had to take a part-time job; I was a bellboy at the Sanderson Hotel, designed by Philippe Starck, which is also where I got a lot of inspiration because all my life I’d been interested in furniture, arts, fashion. Now, if you look at it, everything has kind of come together; I did fashion and there’s a bit of fashion in my furniture.
CM: What inspires you about Philippe Starck’s work?
Oh I think he’s a genius, he’s great. Like us he doesn’t seem to have any rules – he just breaks rules and has lots of fun and there’s a comic element (to his designs). And he creates really interesting spaces, I think. He’s been going for quite some time, but still, every space he creates is unique – it’s so ‘trademark’ what he does.
CM: In terms of furniture design you’re self-taught?
We’re completely self-taught; when I had to take the job at the Sanderson I was very inspired, so I bought a few pieces (of furniture) from second hand shops and took them home and painted them and made them nice ... then another piece and another piece. How (the company) actually started was me and Martin, who lived together back then, moved from one flat to another, and this guy came running down the street because he saw one of our chairs being moved into a van and said ‘Oh my God I want to sell that chair in my shop’... So that’s how it kind of started.
Going on another 6 months, I went to a casting for a hair salon, and in the back of my portfolio I had pictures of a couple of my pieces. The lady in the salon said ‘My God, I love your pieces, use my shop window to display your pieces’. So we did that, and a few months after, got a phone call from the Design and Decoration Awards – the most prestigious one at the time – who asked us to enter the Design Awards, which we did. We got shortlisted in Furniture Design and became Best New Designers in the UK - without selling a single piece!
CM: Do you have a favourite style or period of antique furniture?
Not necessarily. We don’t work to any rules or anything like that. We buy whatever we think looks nice, which is a great base for us to work on. It’s been a lot of French style Louis antique furniture, but it doesn’t have to be – we’ve also worked on 60s/70s retro pieces as well. But I think what we’ve become known for is this French ornate style. However we’re going into lots of other directions – you don’t want to become a one-trick pony and do the same thing over and over again. But having said that, when we entered the Design Awards we had a piece with graffiti on - and back then there was no graffiti at all to be seen in the home. Today, the graffiti pieces are one of the most successful pieces and it’s still very strong and right now in the interior business - there’s graffiti in so many companies. So I like to think we were one of those who created the trend of bringing graffiti street art into the home.
CM: What is your dream collaboration?
We already worked with one of my biggest icons which is, of course, Madonna – we did a big throne (for her) for Superbowl. She was the half time performance, so you had 113 million viewers in five minutes! We made the big throne she came out on, carried by 200 Roman guys, creating a new Cleopatra feel.
CM: What tip would you give to a young or start-up furniture design company?
Be original. Have your own ideas. Once you have your own original ideas it’s much better and easier to get acceptance and success than copying other people.