From the city streets to crags and crevices
Martyn Bullard switches off his engine and leans back. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. The 51-year-old then opens the door of the BMW X7 and gets out. With his hands on his hips, he allows his eyes to soak up the landscape of the Joshua Tree National Park. He looks small here in the middle of the vast desert wilderness, dotted with Joshua trees and craggy rock formations. It's the perfect hideaway for a short break from routine.
Martyn Bullard is an interior designer whose skills are in demand in Hollywood and beyond – from Cher to Tommy Hilfiger. In fact, when celebrities are planning to furnish their new home or redesign their pad, they are almost sure to dial Martyn's number. He has also designed the interiors of luxury hotels like the Californian in Santa Barbara and for exclusive restaurants.
For me, the greatest luxury is silence. These moments of tranquility and seclusion are a way for you to find yourself.
To transform a space into a place you feel at home requires creativity, skill, and inspiration. The first two of these qualities came naturally to Martyn, while the third he finds in nature itself. At regular intervals, the designer trades the concrete jungle of Los Angeles for the wide open spaces on the city’s doorstep. For him, the Joshua Tree National Park is a particular source of inspiration for his home design ideas.
Of course, people like Martyn, who design luxurious comfort zones for a living, appreciate if they can enjoy similar comfort and luxury when they travel – even on their trips into the desert. “A high-class interior, inspiring design, materials you want to touch, a creative space: in the BMW X7 the journey itself becomes the destination,” the designer says.
Martyn strolls past spiky trees and rock formations. “I want to experience nature with all my senses,” he explains, as he strokes – in fact, caresses – the bark of a Joshua tree, which gives the national park its name. “It’s giving me the sense of a potential veneer for a kitchen island,” the designer says. The vibrant grain of the wood would make an exciting contrast to a counter top made of natural stone.
Silently but with his senses awoken, Martyn continues to caress the tree. During his regular work day, he can be contacted at any time. Not today, however. “For me, the greatest luxury is silence,” the luxury interior designer explains. “No cell phone ringing, no traffic noise – these moments of tranquility and seclusion are a way for you to find yourself.”
Discover the Joshua Tree National Park with Martyn Bullard in this video
A lake brimful of inspiration
At the same time of day, around 120 kilometers northwest of Joshua Tree National Park, Caitlin Fleming steers her BMW X7 around narrow bends, between steep mountain slopes, and through sparse forests of ponderosa pine. The San Francisco-based designer and stylist is on her way to Big Bear Lake, one of her favorite destinations for an escape from the city.
Because she hopes to feel relaxed when she arrives despite the long drive, Caitlin wants her journey to be as comfortable as possible. For her, the BMW X7 more than meets this need: “The seats feel as if they were made to measure, even for longer journeys. This sense of space is a luxury for me.”
The picturesque Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains is a place where the mother of two can recharge her batteries. For her, it’s a place where you enjoy time for yourself and get away from it all. On its shores, she finds new inspiration and ideas for her blog Sacramento Street in which she shares home design ideas with her readers and writes about her impressions of the places she visits.
“Once a week, I take a break from the city,” Caitlin explains. “The landscapes of California offer so many options for taking a break from routine. I love it just as much by the ocean as I do here in the mountains.”
Despite her love for the Golden State, however, most of all Caitlin enjoys driving her car to a pretty little lake in Oregon. It’s a place where her husband spent vacations as a child. Now, the couple goes there on family trips to pass on their love of nature to their two children.
The landscapes of California offer so many options for taking a break from routine.
Take a trip to Big Bear Lake with Caitlin Flemming in this video
Memories as building blocks for the perfect space
Seeing nature as a source of creativity, Martyn Bullard reaches out to touch the rock surface. “Whether I’m here in the desert or by the ocean, I absorb the colors and shapes, and feel the textures,” says the designer, known for his contribution to many high-profile projects such as the redesign of the palatial Château Gütsch, a Swiss luxury hotel. “And this light! Natural light like we find here in the National Park is so important to me.”
The use of the California sun as a source of design inspiration for Martyn is also reflected in his own home. The “Villa Grigio” in Palm Springs, in fact, is almost as bright and light like this valley in the National Park. In this place of refuge, the rays of the sun stream through a floor-to-ceiling window in the living room, through white archways, and across a turquoise-colored pool. Martyn spend lots of time behind the wheel for work reasons. “The car is my second home, my mobile living room.” Just like in his villa, sunlight also floods into the interior of the BMW X7 – thanks to the generous panoramic roof.
Martin stores the sensual impressions he picks up on his forays into nature in his head. He then draws on these valuable experiences when completing his next job: “I start with the architecture and look at the room. What’s important is that I recognize my client’s style and understand how they see their hideaway and how their life should unfold there. That’s the basis on which I develop my creativity. To do this, I dip into my database of memories, with all the elements from my voyages of discovery and escapes from the city.”
A journey of self-discovery
It’s midday at Big Bear Lake; the sun is glistening on the water. Enjoying a break from routine, a trip into silence and seclusion – this, for Caitlin Flemming, is what luxury really means.
On such occasions, however, the 33-year-old doesn’t always head for her beloved lakes. “I also seek out places I’ve never seen before. For me, travel is the best source of inspiration.” She collects impressions from every place she visits along with creative ideas that influence her work: “The color of the water in the Gulf of California... the feeling you have when you drink coffee in Italy... the wonderful facades of the houses in Istanbul. All the things I see when traveling give me inspiration and feed into my home design ideas.”
Caitlin often develops the concepts for her ideas while out driving. Just like Martyn Bullard, she also travels a lot for work. Her car thereby turns into a design studio, with her tile patterns in the trunk and fabric samples on the passenger seat.
Space as luxury. This sumptuous versatility is what Caitlin appreciates about the BMW X7: “With this car, I have a mobile office that is just as stylishly fitted out as one of my own designs. At the same time, I can use the vehicle to bring my two kids to school or soccer practice while fitting in sports and ballet equipment and my shopping too.”
“I definitely don’t give myself enough time off,” admits Caitlin she takes a longing glance at the lake. Even so, she does know how to unwind. “When I’m traveling for work, I always try to fit in a visit to the museum. Or a great dinner.”
A creative break in the desert
Evening has fallen in the Joshua Tree National Park. Martyn Bullard gets back into the driving seat, places both hands on the steering wheel, and takes his time to absorb the moment. “This break has been worthwhile,” he says. “Now I actually want to hit the road and turn my impressions into concepts.”
As an interior designer, Martin Bullard has styled yachts and private jets, as well as restaurants, hotels, and private homes. There's one creative challenge, however, that’s still on his wish list: “Breaking new ground and designing an automobile interior – that would be my dream.” Needless to say, he knows where to find inspiration for that.
Breaking new ground and designing an automobile interior – that would be my dream.
Seeking inspiration in the desert while immersing yourself in a luxurious desert oasis away from your day-to-day cares is exactly what guests can enjoy at the Sands Hotel & Spa – an exclusive boutique hotel that was also designed by Martyn Bullard. In the heart of the Coachella Valley of southern California, the L.A.-based interior designer has created an exclusive hideaway. It makes the perfect starting point for a short break in the desert. But because that’s a place where it’s best to spend the night indoors, here are four more luxurious short break destinations where you can enjoy the wide open spaces of California.
Sands Hotel & Spa, Indian Wells
Guests checking in at the Sands Hotel – a luxury hideaway in Indian Wells that was designed by Martyn Bullard – will discover both relaxation and inspiration. Here, the interior designer followed a theme based on design elements and patterns from the Arabian Nights. To match the desert outside, inside we find Moroccan design influences, Oriental spa facilities to meet every need, and an elegant pool. sandshotelandspa.com
Parker Hotel, Palm Springs
The Parker Hotel combines modern architecture with the glamor of Hollywood. To create this effect, the New York designer Jonathan Adler chose to decorate the rooms and villas of the luxury hotel in exciting yet elegant patterns, colors, and textures. Between palm groves and fruit trees, guests can explore this unique hideaway on winding walkways as they make their way to relax in the resort’s three pools. www.parkerpalmsprings.com
L’Horizon, Palm Springs
Looking for an idea for your next trip? How about L’Horizon Palm Springs? The desert oasis was designed in 1952 by architect William F. Cody and ever since has attracted the stars of Hollywood, who come here to enjoy a luxurious break from routine. The best place to unwind? The elegant pool, with palms and mountains reflected in its surface. After seeking solace in this source of inspiration, you’ll soon be ready to venture out again into the desert. lhorizonpalmsprings.com
The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage
Just two hours away from Los Angeles and San Diego, you’ll leave your cares behind as you head for the Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage. The infinity pool of this luxury hotel offers spectacular views over the San Jacinto mountain range and the desert below. www.ritzcarlton.com/de/hotels/california/rancho-mirage
Two Bunch Palms, Desert Hot Springs
Take a break with style – in this oasis of luxury, guests can swim and sunbathe under the palms that gives the resort its name. The Two Bunch Palm Springs, in fact, is the oldest spa resort in the United States and the first CO2-neutral hotel in California. In lush green surroundings, you can get away from it all and find yourself as you relax in the warm mineral springs and top up your batteries – and your creativity too. twobunchpalms.com