Australian photographer Martyn Thompson has occupied this impressive New York loft for 12 years. With an L-shaped footprint, the space fills one whole floor of a beautiful old SOHO building known as the ‘Little Singer Building’, designed by Ernest Flagg, a Beaux-Arts trained architect, and built in 1904, for the Singer Manufacturing Company. ’It was love at first sight’ Martyn explains. ‘I wanted it as soon as the real estate broker said, “You can’t afford it!”.
Martyn’s loft is unique because it’s raw. Unlike most other spaces in Manhattan of these impressive proportions, this space has been left relatively untouched. It hasn’t fallen into the hands of a banker, supermodel or movie star, and it hasn’t been reworked by an interior designer and filled with ubiquitous designer furniture to create a polished, perfect showpiece of a home. In fact, the floorboards haven’t even been polished. This space is really a ‘blank canvas’ in the truest sense, a free and supremely creative living and working space which reflects the prolific output of the two creatives who live here.
In all the time he’s been here, Martyn has done very little structural work to the space. However, from a decorative point of view, the interiors are in a constant state of flux, as the space serves as an endless testing ground for the various creative projects he and Dove are working on at any given time. Currently, the space is filled with samples from Martyn’s incredible collection of soft furnishings, whilst a psychedelic handpainted mural by Dove commands the front sitting area, along with his various ceramics sculptures and vessels dotted around the space. ‘The space is in a constant state of cosmetic change, depending on what Dove and I are both working on’ Martyn says.
Martyn appreciates the openness and versatility of his space, with living and working quarters all on one floor. ‘It’s a very adaptable place, it doesn’t have a sitting room and dining room… those things aren’t fixed’ he explains. ‘If I want to have a lunch for 20, I can make a table up do that, or equally set it up as a design workshop or photo studio. It’s fluid in its function; the duality of a live and workspace has been great’.
Aside from its impressive scale and palpable sense of old world New York nostalgia, much of the magic here comes down to Martyn himself. Martyn is a unique and confident creative, with a very distinctive aesthetic that defines his work, his personal style and his environment. Having photographed countless inspired interiors across the globe (most notably collaborating with Elle Decoration founding editor Ilse Crawford for many years in London in the early years of the magazine), Martyn has a deep reverence for layered interiors with a sense of history. He loves antiques, rich textures and aged surfaces. His affection for beautiful interiors is typified in his most recent passion project – his own range of incredible wallpapers and soft furnishings, created under the name Martyn Thompson Studio.
‘I’m drawn to raw beauty, objects that are honest and well crafted. Texture, patina and muted colours are a common thread in my work and the objects I surround myself with’ Martyn says. Having said that, Martyn also admits that the older he gets, the more relaxed he is about how his home looks! He describes his apartment as a fluid and ever-changing space, filled with familiar objects that trigger a lot of memories. Indeed, everything here has a story to tell.