Interior Design Perspective: Leslie Martin

Leslie Martin of M + M Interior Design works with her sister, Meardon, to create stunning interiors. Both mothers, they focus on creating family-friendly home where everyone can relax and enjoy life while growing together. This also means function is at the forefront of design!

Q: Not everything in a space has to be designer, but we all hope to have at least a few special pieces. What unique or custom elements of art/design do you think are worth buying? 

Anything that you fall in love with!  From a piece of art to a custom piece of furniture, if something makes you happy just by looking at it, it’s worth the purchase.  Regardless of your décor style, or even if it changes down the road, a piece that does this for you will fit in any scenario.  The best designed rooms are those that hold items from an array of styles and time periods.

Q: As a professional interior designer, you play the role of visionary, curator, and project manager. What aspects make it challenging to find unique art/designs? What’s good and bad about the process of working with Creators on custom pieces? 

Art is so personal and as a designer I can fall in love with a piece and think it works perfectly for the space but if the client doesn’t have the same reaction it’s not something they are going to want in their home.  That makes the hunt for art rather laborious but having a source like Wescover that represents so many well curated, wonderful artists and craftspeople, the hunt becomes more streamlined.

When it comes to creating a custom piece the best part is our imaginations can take over and we can work alongside the creator to make a one of a kind piece which client’s always appreciate.  The draw back to anything custom can be the cost and the timeline.  Custom is not for those who want instant gratification but as we know, all good things are worth the wait.

Q: How often do your clients request something unique or custom? What do they typically ask for and what are their criteria/priorities for bigger budget items or focal pieces? (ie. they want to buy local, made-to-order or sustainable goods) 

The clients who appreciate the value of having something that’s one of a kind and custom tend to not be as concerned about budget, especially when it comes to art.  As opposed to a piece of furniture that may take some wear and tear, a piece of art, even in the most active of homes, can stand rather un-touched and protected.  It’s always an added bonus if the artist is local, or comes from somewhere that holds meaning to the client.  Art with a back story is always a plus.

Q: Does buying unique make a positive global impact? How do interior designers play a role? 

I would assume that there is much less waste with a unique or custom item.  The idea of repurposing something of value means we are giving it a second life, not using materials to make something new.  When a client spends money on an piece that is custom they are much less likely to discard it after a few years.  They may re-frame a piece of art, or recover an old chair but when you take the time and the money to create something unique you love it on a different level and those items are hard to part with.

Q: While they’re both creatives, Creators sometimes don’t understand the challenges of accomplishing projects as an Interior Designer. Do you have any advice for Creators (like painters or furniture designers) who’d love to connect and collaborate with designers like you?

Awww thank you for the question!  The debate between form and function will always exists.  Every designer would probably love to be given the chance to create a room that was strictly about form and beauty but the fact is we are creating spaces for real people and the items need to work and endure.  My advice would simply be to keep this in mind and although we may agree that your gorgeous chair is aesthetically beautiful, we will also need it to work well in a home that will live long after the photos are taken.  

Q: What are your top 3 favorite items or Creators you spotted on Wescover?

1. The work of photographer Danielle Nelson Mourning, especially Paten Circle II, Marks, Mississippi, stops me in my tracks every single time.  I have an image of it sitting on my computer’s desktop so I intentionally consider it for all my projects.  I will find a home for this piece one day!

2. I am currently living in Hawaii (my partner Kim is still running the studio outside of Chicago) and I am obsessed with all things rattan so the delicate chairs and settees from People of the Sun in Malawi have recently caught my eye.

3. Delft tile makes my heart sing so when I discovered ceramist Michael Chandler and his modern approach to this 400 year old tradition I was immediately smitten.  I have dreams of filling an entire kitchen with his gorgeous work.  

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