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Jimmie Karlsson & Martin Nihlmar - Jimmie Martin

13th Aug 2012

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Jimmie Karlsson and Martin Nihlmar of Jimmie Martin are the kings of rebellious design and decadent cool, mixing classic furniture pieces with pop culture street art and graffiti. Jimmie Martin was one of the first companies to launch the ‘graffiti mania’ trend by using graffiti images on their wallpaper and furniture designs. Their very first design hosted graffiti on a side board, which has now progressed in to a wide range of flamboyant furniture- from sideboards to sofas, plus wardrobes, mirrors and beds, all in what Nihlmar calls their ‘Baroque and roll’ style. All pieces are individually finished off to either the customer’s personal taste, or to the ideas of the founders, Jimmie and Martin, with the press commentating on “a rare consistency of sophisticated pieces combined with a sexy, modern design element." After only one year of the company being set up, in June 2005 Jimmie Martin won the award for best "New Designer in Practice" at the Design and Decorations Awards and was also nominated as a finalist in the furniture design category. The pair source antique pieces of furniture “because there is a craftsmanship we can work with as our canvas.” They said that their most popular designs were their imperfection graffiti art works as well as the sausage dog artworks on various pieces of furniture, which is also a personal favourite. Its instantly a “Jimmie Martin” piece which mixes something fun and unexpected with luxurious finishes and beautiful classic shapes. It is perhaps not surprising then that they are inspired from everyday life. It could be the news, streets, fashion, music, conversations, travel – you name it, which can be seen throughout their eclectic design. The company has added a new dimension to its highly successful brand by launching a new interior design business, Jimmy Martin & McCoy. The company provides classic designs combined with luxury elegance for major refurbishment projects through to new kitchens. 

This very cool Swedish duo met in Stockholm in 1997, but didn’t actually start their business until years later in 2004. They were initially based in East London, where they set up a small shop selling their own-designed art inspired furniture, that combined classic decedance with pop culture street art to provide unique, customized pieces of furniture. Back then, East London was still a risky place - yes, it was cool at night, but it wasn't really offering all that it should during the day, in terms of incoming traffic and customers for Jimmie Martin. As a result, it wasn't long until they realised that their niche was actually here in West London, where they have since set up a store on Kensington Church Street; a street known for many things including fine art, antique traders and hushed mansion blocks - definitely not Rock and Roll glam! Co-founder Martin Nihlmar admits that moving from their tiny Shoreditch store to upmarket Kensington was a gamble for him and partner Jimmie Karlsson, “three years ago East London went dead. We had to do something, especially as most of our clients come from this area anyway and so we said, OK, we’ll go west!” Since then, Jimmie himself has moved to the area - W2 to be exact - which he loves.

Saying that, not all of their business is local, especially not if  you count Madonna at the 2012 Superbowl in Indianapolis as a client. Madonna apparantely approached Jimmie and Martin herself, to design her spectacular avant-garde chariot-cum-podium-cum-throne. Featuring a black polished walkway and gilded poles raised above two sphinx’ dripping in black Swarovski crystals, this one of a kind Egyptian inspired work of art would make Cleopatra green with envy. Behind the seat of the throne were the tall and unmistakable initials M.D.N.A (the title and feature track of Madonna’s next album) scrawled in Jimmie Martin’s signature graffiti script. This piece of work has a place in history as both an impactful yet harmonious collaboration between the Queen of Pop – Madonna, and award-winning London based design duo – Jimmie Martin. Jimmie reveals, “we were absolutely thrilled to be contacted by Madonna’s team asking us to work with her on what is arguably the most highly televised sporting event in the United States, if not worldwide. Everyone involved have been absolutely great to work with and the attention to detail has been amazing. From being a fan growing up in Sweden and now seeing our piece on stage with Madonna has been incredibly surreal.” Company Director Martin Nihlmar shared similar sentiment. “The atmosphere watching Madonna carried out by an army of dancers on our creation - even from sitting at home in the UK felt utterly electric. We [Jimmie and I] both felt such a sense of gratification in terms of brand recognition and business growth from our humble beginnings. We owe her and her team a huge thank you, just for the experience we have had working on this. We very much hope to be working with Madonna and her creative team again in the future, as well as a various other exciting projects that are currently in the pipeline – watch this space!”

Other celebrity clientele includes Liam Howlett, Liam Gallagher, Kelly Osbourne, Kylie Minogue and Candy & Candy, amongst others. That's not even including places such as Movida, Beach Blanket Babylon, Bungalow8 and The Burlington Club featuring their pieces. Work in progress includes the interior of a West End nightclub called ‘Cirque du Soir’, the conversion of a high-end building into four flats as well as the complete redesign and refurbishment of an 11,000 square foot property. Jimmie Martin designs are sold all over the world, from Dubai to Tokyo and New York to Sydney. Maison 24 on New York Park Avenue has become the most recent stockist selling their iconic designs.