Some interior designers have ambitions to scale up their retail presence. Jason Martin has been there, done that. Following extensive experience that's run the gamut of showroom sizes and settings, he's landed in a place that suits him just right.
In April, Martin opened Martin & Brockett, a comfortable space in a down-to-earth, creative pocket near Pico and Hauser boulevards in Mid-Wilshire. Housed within a vernacular Streamline Moderne strip of charmingly articulated storefronts, Martin stocks his brightly skylighted shop with pieces that he enjoys being surrounded by while he tries to find them new homes.
Originally from Amarillo, Texas, Martin moved to Dallas before a job with Anthropologie brought him to Southern California in 1999. In 2001, he opened Silho Furniture on La Brea Avenue near Beverly Boulevard, which he and his business partner eventually shuttered shortly before the 2008 financial crash. After running a solo design firm for a couple of years, Martin worked as design director for Kristen Buckingham before then striking out on his own again.
Up until recently, "I was happy not to have a store," Martin said. But now he's ready to get back to brick-and-mortar business. His new venue enables him to maintain his interior design studio in-house and work with new and vintage furnishings, as well as the art and accessories he gathers.
"I made this space as personal as possible," he explained. The setup works best for him, as well as for his design clients and drop-in customers. "This is a living portfolio. You can't get that from pictures." Having three dimensions in which to create his own environment actually helps him better shape interiors for others.
"With this it's mine. But with clients, it's theirs," Martin said.
Martin doesn't chase after pedigree, instead letting the inherent quality of each piece resonate. A 1960s reproduction of a Biedermeier desk stands near an authentic Biedermeier chest of drawers, for example, albeit one with non-original hardware.
You can take the man out of Texas, but sometimes you can't take the Texas-influenced baroque leanings out of the man. To wit: Martin describes an ideal interior medley as late 1970s-era Mark Hampton – an iconic designer he has a particular fondness for from his earliest days working in interior design -- plus John Saladino, mixed with a dose of laid-back California style.
"I wanted the store to be a collection of things I like and care about," he noted. Because Martin loves thematic accumulations of all sorts, clustered items include Navajo pottery (he grew up going to Santa Fe, N.M., often), and an assemblage of polished stone obelisks.
Despite resourcefully tracking down goods from all eras, Martin maintains a custom line to fill the gaps he's mostly likely to come across. His own tailored pine wood floor and desk lamps are seen at Martin & Brockett, as is an example of the "Arcade" console. The latter is inspired both by the town of Ojai's signature arched arcade downtown and the architectural subject matter Giorgio de Chirico featured in his surrealist paintings.
In addition to art that ranges from antique landscape oil paintings to bold mid-century graphics of mysterious provenance, Martin displays work from a rotating selection of contemporary artists. Photographer Jock McDonald's physically woven pictures, L.A. artist Kelli Craig's photographs of light reflected off of holographic paper, and Molly Scranton's collages of typewriter correction tape intriguingly placed over images are on view.
While Martin & Brockett reflects his particular tastes, Martin isn't overly nostalgic or attached to the objects that find their way to him. Whether it's an inlay wood gambling table or an Eero Aarnio-designed Mobel Italia chrome frame settee he's had recovered in khaki green corduroy, "It's for the right person. I like the idea that someone would fall in love with it."
5449 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 879-9395.