Rebecca: How did you become interested in design?
Martin: My interest started very early while I was still in grade school and had never heard the term “design” but seemed to always be involved in constructing structures and buildings from toy bricks, steel and girder sets, erector sets, etc. all before Legos were around. I would tell everyone that I wanted to be a builder. In high school the art department had a field trip to The Cleveland Institute of Art where we visited several departments, but the one that captured me was Industrial Design. From that moment, after seeing the students designing futuristic looking automobiles, Industrial Design became my passion. My initial thought of becoming an architect shifted to becoming a designer…not that the two disciplines aren’t interconnected, but the dream of designing cars (since I was a car nut to begin with) sealed my direction. Unfortunately the big three auto makers in Detroit weren’t hiring as there was a recession at the time. I accepted a position as a trade show designer, which eventually brought me to Chicago where I shared space with an Interior Design firm and started to collaborate with them on projects.
Rebecca: What kinds of trends have you seen come and go over the years and what kinds of trends do you think are timeless?
Martin: I have been working as a professional designer since 1974. I have seen several trends come and go such as post-modernism as defined by architects such as Michael Graves, to the Memphis movement which grew out of a group of mostly Italian architects that were product designers. In Europe there is little distinction between Architecture and Industrial Design disciplines. Colors have also had trends from the psychedelic colors and patterns of the 60’s and 70’s to the mauve and sage green 80’s and 90’s. Woods with dark ebony color stains graced every high end furniture showroom as we progressed into the new century. As GE well knows appliances in the 50’s and 60’s were avocado, harvest gold and brown in addition to classic white. Stainless steel has been the rage for many recent years and should continue for years to come.
As far as classic, timeless design, I feel that white kitchen cabinets will always be in vogue, woods such as walnut and mahogany, natural stone including white Carrera and Calcutta and metals, both polished and brushed nickel.
Rebecca: I know you recently attended the Monogram Design Center in Louisville with us. Tell me about your experience.
Martin: My experience was very educational. I was certainly familiar with the GE brand but always associated it with appliances that were mostly specified by builders for multi-unit developments or clients that possibly had budget restrictions. When the GE Monogram showroom opened in the mart I became aware of the high quality offerings for cooking, refrigeration, dishwashing, etc., and that the Monogram products were on par with other high end appliances. At the Monogram experience center I was able to gain knowledge of products to the point that I am now confident in speaking and presenting to my clients the features and benefits for considering GE Monogram.
Rebecca: We plan to feature your one of your upcoming projects on Save Room for Design. Can you tell us a little bit about this project? How did you meet your client? Give us some background of the initial design work.
Martin: The project encompasses remodeling the entire first floor of the home of which the kitchen/great room is approximately 50% of the entire space.
I was introduced to the client by the general contractor, Construction Development, that I have known and worked with for over 12 years.
Since the kitchen is the most detailed area I decided to focus on this space first by developing preliminary design concepts to present to my clients which led to a more finalized design solution. I specified Neff as the cabinet manufacturer as well as introduced them to GE Monogram products. I felt that this was a good marriage of high quality design, engineering and craftsmanship. To date the cabinets are in production with a delivery set for some time in October. Materials for flooring, countertops and backsplashes are currently being sourced as well as lighting and wall finishes.
Martin’s new kitchen project will be featured on Save Room for Design, please revisit us for a updates on this project over the next few months.