Friday, April 25, 2014

Bravo, Antonio Martins: Designer I Love

Today I have a fantastically detailed and thrilling post for you—all about the highly original and uplifting bedroom designed by San Francisco/Lisbon designer Antonio Martins for the San Francisco Decorator Showcase, which opens tomorrow at 3660 Jackson Street, San Francisco.

Martins’ blue and white bedroom is a breath-takingly original concept—inspired by the quirky traditional blue and white handpained tiles that adorn his family’s hometown, Lisbon, Portugal.

But, the brilliant Antonio has boldly introduced into this traditional concept the iconic white plaster tables of my great friend and mentor, John Dickinson, and the most handsome and eccentric hand-carved rosewood four-poster Goanese bed you have ever seen.

For designers’ inspiration I’ve gathered Antonio’s original presentation rendering for his design of he room. He presented it to the Showcase Design Advisory Board (of which I am an member).

Dear Readers—please sit down with a glass of fine Port, in Antonio's honor, to study his design, to gasp at the ‘before shots’, to meet his family, and to see all the ‘behind the scenes’ work that went into his glorious room.

Oh, and you'll learn about the history of Portuguese azulejos as well.

Concerning Port...I prefer violet-scented Quinta de Vargellas, 1998, from the Douro Valley. Seek out a bottle (or two).

Antonio's design will thrill modernists, decorative artists, Portuguese historians, design traditionalists, John Dickinson fans, and artists alike. I’m smitten.

Read on to find fun details of the decorative murals, and of artists at play. 

Antonio Martins is truly international—and the murals, antiques and even the white plaster John Dickinson tables reflect his worldly peregrinations.

Antonio has offices in San Francisco and in Lisbon. He was born in Portugal. His mother flew to San Francisco from her residence in Lisbon to see her son’s design, and add constant encouragement. See her baby picture below, in a charming collection (shown here exclusively) of Antonio’s archival family portraits.

But note that this is so much more than an homage to antiques. There’s the fearless addition of a white floor, simply decorated windows, unexpected modern sculptural furniture, and personal collections on the Dickinson tables. The composition is confidently cohesive and at the same time there are jolts of contrast, and pleasing juxtapositions.

Designer Antonio Martins

The Concept of Antonio Martins' Bedroom

“My design started with a broken and falling-apart antique bed, that belonged to my family,” said Antonio.

Antonio has turned an unimaginative and rather dated master bedroom (see ‘before’ photos for the dramatic display of transformation) into a captivating space that takes a modern approach on historical elements.

“Staying true to and honoring my heritage, I wanted to showcase an antique Portuguese Bilros bed, carefully preserved by my family since the 18th century,” said Antonio.

The bed—eccentric and dramatic—commands attention and is the primary inspiration for the space. Made of “Pau-Santo,” an exotic rosewood, the design of the bed adheres to the strict guidelines of the period.

“I have always loved this bed, which incorporates our family crest, and the Showcase was the perfect excuse to bring it to San Francisco,” says Antonio.

As a celebration of Portuguese culture, the walls are covered by blue and white tiles (Portuguese Azulejos), faithful copies of 18th century patterns and designs.

Offering a 21st century twist on traditional form and pattern, Antonio has expanded the tile size and shuffled the images to become a modern piece of art.

“I love the use of traditional designs and techniques in a whole new way.”

A total of 243 oversized tiles were hand-painted by master decorative painters Linda Horning and Katherine Jacobus, working together for the first time in this challenging and historically-accurate task. 

The ‘before’ shots make the new décor and its freshness even more impressive:

Antonio's proposal to the Showcase Design Advisory Board

The Story of the Magnificent Rosewood Bed:  The Restoration

“All by Hand… The Goanese bed (Goa, on the west coast of India was once a Portuguese colony) was completely carved by hand. It is crafted of Pau Santo, which was an extremely hard exotic rosewood. The rare wood was very heavy and expensive and even the best pieces of furniture had to be “pieced together” to create the larger posts. You can clearly see how it was pieced together to create the posts and the headboard.” — Antonio Martins

All About Antonio and His Family

Antonio told me, exclusively for The Style Saloniste:

“My family is originally from Portugal but moved to Brazil in the late 1800s.

The entire family kept moving between Portugal and Brazil and my mother was born in Brazil but moved back to Portugal when she was 12.

My mother (the baby in the pictures) and siblings, Recife, Brazil, circa 1939

In Portugal, they had farms and land in the north of Portugal. When my grandfather moved to Brazil he had a coffee and corn processing plant.

My grandmother, aunt and mother, Portugal, circa 1967

I was born in Portugal and moved to Brazil in 1975 at the age of six years old. We lived in Rio and my father had several businesses but his main passion was a coffee farm in the state of Minas Gerais in central Brazil (where all the diamonds are from).

Me and brothers and sister. I am the second from the right – Lisbon, Portugal, 1974

After graduating high school, in 1988, I moved to Switzerland to attend Hotel Management School—Centre Internationale de Glion.

After graduation, I was hired by Hyatt International, and moved to Hong Kong where I lived for about 10 years, working in Germany, Italy, Bangkok, and throughout Southeast Asia. All of this time I was studying the design and architecture of each country.

I finally moved in 2000 to Chicago to work at the head office of Hyatt International and worked in development projects in Paris, 
Sao Paulo, Chicago and Argentina. Finally I resigned from Hyatt in 2001 and moved to San Francisco to join the Academy of Art University where I taught and studied…and then I opened my own design studios in San Francisco and in Lisbon.”

Inspiration for the ‘Azulejos’, Handpainted on the Walls

Mueeu do Azulejo in Lisbon used as a reference

One of the museum's centuries old tiles that served as inspiration

Artists at Play

Antonio Martins with decorative artists Linda Horning (left) and Katherine Jacobus (right) who created the playful and exquisite murals inspired by Portuguese traditional blue and white tiles, azulejos, so ubiquitous in Lisbon. Photo by Philip Bewley.

About Katherine Jacobus:
San Francisco decorative artist Katherine Jacobus has been creating interiors based on antiquity, fanciful imagination and realism for over 20 years. A conceptual thinker, Jacobus tailors each project to the individual needs and executes projects with skill and professionalism. Her work has been published in House Beautiful, and Elle Décor. Jacobus holds a BFA in Illustration and Interior Design from Parsons School of Design

About Linda Horning:
San Francisco decorative artist Linda Horning has worked as a decorative painter for 30 years. Working primarily in the Bay Area, she has had the distinct pleasure of working with some of the premier decorators and Icons of style. She graduated from UC Davis with a Masters in Fine Art. Drawing from this fine arts background provides invaluable material and technical skills, as well as a broader historical perspective of style and design. Her work has been published in “Ann Getty Interior Style” by Diane Dorrans Saeks. 


Antonio Martins Interior Design Team
- Fallon Rosa
- Erin Roberts
- Regina Anchustegui
- Jeffrey Ypon

Tile-Inspired Decorative Painting
- Linda Horning
- Katherine Jacobus
- Assisted by Erin Roberts of Antonio Martins Interior Design

Interior photos
- Drew Kelly

Drapery and bedspread

- Patricia Andrade of Andrade Window Treatments

Portrait of Antonio Martins with Linda Horning and Katherine Jacobus
- Philip Bewley

Fireplace and metal work
- Scott Adkins from Profab metal design

- Francisco Melchor

Bed Restoration
- Fabian Fine Furniture

Spiderweb console by Scala – sold through Coup d’Etat.

John Dickson bedside tables sold through Coup d’Etat.

Pair of stools beside bed by Formations, sold through Shears & Window.

18th century Statue from Candice Barnes

Tokyo chair sold through Coup d’Etat, San Francisco.

Antonio’s cousin Fernanda Sarmento:  Thank you for letting the bed travel to San Francisco!

Antonio Martins Interior Design
Showplace Square West
550 15th Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

t. 415.377.6136

Thank you, Antonio. Your room is so fresh, and I admire your decision to include the John Dickinson Pieces — Diane

The 2014 San Francisco Decorator Showcase

National media sponsor: Hearst Design Group
Kitchen: sponsored by House Beautiful

The kitchen, designed by Steven Miller, will be published later this year in detail in House Beautiful, as House Beautiful’s Kitchen of the Year.

The 2014 San Francisco Decorator Showcase will be open from April 26 through May 26. Open Tuesdays through Sundays and on Memorial Day.

Top interior designers whose talents will be on display include (in random order) Antonio Martins, BAMO, Coddington Design, Geoffrey de Sousa Interior Design, Heather Hilliard, Jane Richardson Mack, Jonathan Rachman, Kristi Will, SagreraBrazil Design, Shelley & Co, MacCaul Turner Design and many top landscape designers, decorative artists, and artists.

3660 Jackson is an exceptional estate in the middle of Presidio Heights originally built in 1907 by the architectural team of Walter Danforth Bliss and William Baker Faville for their clients Rose and Alfred Sutro. The elegant red brick estate stands out with a façade of meticulously groomed climbing ficus. Inside, the spacious home features exquisitely detailed woodwork, a gracious entry with a three-story staircase and coffered skylight, a beautiful wood-paneled library, a music room, and several rooms with expansive views of the Presidio and San Francisco Bay. For the first time this year, the Showcase will also feature House Beautiful magazine’s Kitchen of the Year, the must-see destination for brilliant kitchen design and innovative culinary happenings, designed by Steven Miller, of San Francisco’s Steven Miller Design Studio.

For the past 37 years, the annual San Francisco Decorator Showcase has benefited San Francisco University High School's financial aid program, raising over $12.5 million and benefiting hundreds of students. The San Francisco Decorator Showcase allows San Francisco University High School to offer financial aid to its students. It is through the community's continued support that quality education has been made available over the past three decades to hundreds of deserving Bay Area students.

Please call (415) 447-5830 or visit


Blue said...

The first breath of spring (in decorating terms) so far this year. His room and his idea will be much copied, I'm sure, but none will be the breath of fresh air that his room is.

What a delight!

Karena said...

Dear Diane,
Antonio and his team of artists are creative geniuses. Antonio's background and family story are so interesting as well.

What an absolute pleasure to be able to see this fabulously artful room (especially as I will not be able to attend the San Francisco Decorator Showhouse!)

Theresa Cheek said...

Oh my goodness! This is a feast for the eyes and soul! The execution and placement of the tiles is pure genius! With so much imagery available on line, this stands out as unique!

Newell Turner said...

This room is spectacular. Antonio has clearly tapped into the extraordinary interior design legacy of San Francisco. But this room is no copy of anything. It's fresh, original and I'm hoping a sign that designers in SF are putting this city's wonderful sensibility back on the world's interior design map!

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


Dear Blue and Karena in Kansas, and the lovely Theresa-

Thank you so much. Yes…it is pure joy.
You enter the room…and everything else disappears and you are in the TERRITORY OF ANTONIO.
His is such an original invention…and the addition of the JOHN DICKINSON plaster…and then the abstracted white chaise longue…is so uplifting.

thank you for your lovely comments DIANE

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Newell-

Yes…agree totally.
Antonio has tapped into the history and vibe os San Francisco in every way.
There's the John Dickinson reference…but he has also captured the extraordinary quality of light here…the light that bounces off the bay…and is one of the reasons everyone feels so healthy and great here…transcendence light. He seems to have drawn light into the room…and it bounces around…and yet it is purely an imaginary PORTUGAL AS WELL…LISBON of course …on the river and on the Atlantic…has that same reverberant light…
Bravo Antonio.
Bravo also to House Beautiful for its generous support of THE SAN FRANCISCO DECORATOR SHOWCASE…and the wonderful KITCHEN OF THE YEAR…designed by Steven Miller. Wonderful.

Philip Bewley said...

Dear Diane,

I thought of you as soon as I walked into this room. I was reminded of some of the special posts you have featured: on John Dickenson, and the incorporation of white in San Francisco interiors to capture the “transcendent and reverberant” light you also describe here in a comment. I was very fortunate and honored that Antonio, Katherine and Linda asked me to take their portrait – and fortunate to be in this uplifting room and in their intelligent, informed and charming company. Katherine and Linda captured perfectly the style of the Portuguese azulejos in that full and Baroque period modeling. It is so different from the style of Delft painted tiles –uniquely Portuguese, and they got it just right and in such a new and original presentation. I loved the pendant rope sculpture as well. The rope is an intrinsic decorative motif of Portuguese Manueline architecture –referencing that country’s maritime past –and as a kind of textile art reminiscent of the work of Sheila Hicks it is exactly the kind of thing that I urge collectors to consider today. Loved your description of this truly 21st century room, the splendid Indo-Portuguese bed, Antonio’s great talent and family history and the features on these superb artists.

Anonymous said...

I previewed this room last night at the opening party and I was speechless. FABULOUS! Such creativity and beauty in this space. One of a kind! So happy for Antonio and his team for such a success!


columnist said...

What a transformation, and how brilliantly the mostly white palette increases the height of the ceilings.

Robert Webber said...

Thanks as ever for this Diane! Such a privilege to see into the design process of others. Best R

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

thank you, thank you!

Dear Friends-

Thank you for your enthusiasm and insight and wonderful comments.

The room is break taking…and Antonio's mother came and she is delightful…so chic in antique filigree handmade gold pendant…chicer than chic.

wonderful evening at the showcase opening…

you but see it…DIANE

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Friends-

I received a lovely note from my dear friend and longtime reader, MARGOT VON MUHLENDAHL…who lives in Berlin.

"Perfectly wonderful. One of the cleverest things I've seen in recent memory. In decorating, it so pays off when a designer has some cultural depth."


thank you. You are right…this Antonio room has culture and history and insight and invention and discovery. And everyone is at home there.

thanks you so much for your lovely comment- DIANE

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


I RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING WONDERFUL MESSAGE: This is from a wonderfully worldly and wise friend in SANTA BARBARA…a place I love.

Loved this post! Great room and what thorough
Coverage you did. Particularly love the braided
rope "tree trunk" hanging from ceiling.
Best wishes
Beverley Jackson

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Friends-

I love hearing from you!

I received the following from an old friend recently…someone I admire.

Dear Diane,

You may remember our on-line meeting and "chatting" a little, over a year ago, when you made some extremely nice comments about the photos of my house in House Beautiful.

I seldom make comments on what I see, read, and like on Blogs, T (thinking that I had nothing to say or contribute) , but I just had to about your Antonio Martins posting!

WOW! To say that I too am "smitten" would be a huge understatement . I am completely In Love!

I am recovering from a knee replacement surgery, a week ago Friday, and so I am full of pain killers and drugs and not thinking a clearly as I might hope to usually, but
when this posting appeared on my iPad last Friday I was wowed. I let it pass, but then picked it up again Saturday morning, and starred studying it, and trying to learn more about the designer and his work I obviously could not find a lot about his work on the internet, but what I was able to find was Great, and praise worthy, but this room is obvisouly a "Milestone Room", I predict that it will go down in "design history" as the beginning of a new look and style, and the birthplace of a new star!

So , Congratulations to you, on being the first to show it to us, and bringing to us a new Super Star to follow!
Sadly, your friend John Dickinson, is not with us to join in the celebration of this new very exciting concept, but I would hope that he too would see, and take pride in this continuation of his work.

If speaking with Mr. Martins, please add my name to what must by now be his now many fans and followers.

All the best to you, and keep your inspiring blogs coming!


Sally said...

Good evening,
I have just found you and I am completely captivated by this story, and the exquisite design that Antonio has produced.His room is breathtaking
I am an interior decorator in england and europe, and I shall follow you hereafter!

Thank you for such beauty at the close of my day..


P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

Really spectacular! certain to be remembered. pgt