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Martyn Lawrence Bullard Brings High Style to Pool Lounging and Writes a New Book About His Celebrity Design Projects

Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Elton John, Cher and RuPaul Love This Guy For a Reason

BY // 08.13.23

Oliver Micklewright has fond memories of lazy summer days, watching his parents float on their inflated “lilo” lounger. What Americans call a float, or even a raft, the British call a lilo (pronounced lee-low). Micklewright set out to design one that could withstand sun, salt and chlorine ― all in high style. Now, his Lilos brand of upholstered loungers are partnering with one of the country’s most well known and respected designers Martyn Lawrence Bullard on a limited collection.

“It’s a great way to decorate your pool,” Bullard tells PaperCity. “They coordinate with your existing outdoor furniture, and it changes the whole feel of your garden decor.”

And since pool season often extends well into October in Texas, it is always a good time to add a new designer touch to your poolscape.

The goal of Oliver James Lilos is to craft the finest inflatable lilos on the market. They aren’t cheap, but that’s part of the deal when you want the best. The lilos range in price from $1,300 for a single to $1,680 for a double ― and the covers only are priced from $950 to $1,375.

A single Lilo wrapped in MLB Kabba Kabba fabric makes a pool fashion statement of its own.
A single Lilo wrapped in MLB Kabba Kabba fabric makes a pool fashion statement of its own.

It is all about high-quality materials that are built to last. These designer lilos are made of thermal polyurethane for both comfort and durability, with marine-grade trims, and covered in what is known as solution-dyed acrylic fabrics. This makes the upholstery UV, mold mildew and fade resistant. The colors are not imprinted on the surface of the lilos, but rather woven right into the fabric.

These signature Lilo styles from Martyn Lawrence Bullard are available in the single lilo size covered by his Kabba Kabba fabric, as well as a double size wrapped in his Ubud Stripe. The fabrics are inspired by a batik pattern depicting antique Balinese temple etchings.

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You might say, it’s a bit like gilding the lilo.

“I am passionate about fabrics. They are the architecture of any room,” Bullard says. “All of the designs in my line are inspired by my travels. Whether searching the markets of Paris and London or my trips to Istanbul and Marrakesh. And these outdoor fabrics feel very soft and comfortable.”

Bullard’s fabric line launched about 15 years ago. He notes that he had been custom designing special fabrics for his clients for many years and felt it was a shame for them to be a one-off considering all the time that went into creating them. He wanted to share the designs with others and now he has a slate of fabrics to pull from for use in a myriad of projects, both residential and commercial.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard on a Oliver James Lilos double Ubud Stripe makes a statement.
Martyn Lawrence Bullard on a Oliver James Lilos double Ubud Stripe makes a statement.

Many styles from his fabric line are intentionally two-toned, highlighting these graphic, floral and geometric prints.

“I am a colorist at heart, but understand that color is difficult for many to translate,” Bullard says. “I will often design in a two-tone palette. It allows for more freedom of use, and ease of layering. But my newest Couture Line of fabrics does have more colors involved.”

What’s on the design horizon?

We are seeing a return to an almost Victorian flavor,” Bullard says. You heard it here first.

“This was a fun side project because I’m such a fan of the Lilos brand,” Bullard says. “I use them as both a chaise and as floats. They are so comfortable and chic. We will add more fabrics from my line for next season.”

The Martyn Lawrence Bullard Design Empire

Of course, this isn’t the first collaboration for one of the world’s most sought-after interior designers.

“Collaborations feel right to you when they match your brand’s dynamics and when they’ll be financially successful,” Bullard notes. “I first went with heritage French makers including a collection of dinnerware with Haviland Limoges, as well as collaborations with silversmith Christofle and Daum crystal.

“I found that my fabrics aligned well with Schumacher, and I love the fact that The Shade Store brings quality design directly to the public.”

Among Bullard’s other notable collaborations are his tile lines for Ann Sacks and his racy line with La Cornue and its iconic Château range, which debuted last year.

Now Bullard’s eponymous collections include not only fabrics and wall coverings but also furniture and home accessories. They are available through his firm and at showrooms worldwide ― including at James Showrooms in Austin, Dallas and Houston.

“I have to have a connection with or love of the product,” Bullard says in his gracious British accent. “In this case, I love Lilos products. They create the most stylish and fun pool floaties. After I installed them for the Kardashians, all my clients wanted them.”

Star Style will be released on October 3, by Vendome Press.
Star Style will be released on October 3, by Vendome Press.

This style icon doesn’t have much time for lounging around his pool these days himself however. Bullard reveals that he has more than “25 new projects on the go” worldwide.

Among the many projects he’s currently juggling include a new restaurant chain called Red O by chef Rick Bayless (with three current locations including the flagship in Newport Beach, California), residential work for A-listers like Sylvester Stallone and Machine Gun Kelly, and plenty of hotel projects to boot.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard will also publish his fourth book on October 3 with Vendome Press. Called Star Style, Bullard says it will feature favorite interior design projects that he did for clients like Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Elton John, Cher and RuPaul, just to name a few.

Star Style is an overview of my work over the past 30 years ― covering the last decade especially,” Bullard tells PaperCity. “It’s written in a very personal way. And I hope it will give insight into how I design.”

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