Jimmie Martin – the unique Swedish design duo in London!

Jul 23, 2021 by

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After living many years in West London, it’s been hard to miss the cool interior showroom on 77 Kensington Church street that is Jimmie Martin. Packed in between antique shops, the art in the shop window stands out and always showcase a new unique piece of art. To our happy surprise, we found out that the store is run by two Swedes and has been there since 2009, after moving from Redchurch street in Shoreditch.   


We talked to Jimmie and Martin, the Swedish duo behind the brand Jimmie Martin that makes customised art that stands out!


Name: Jimmie Karlsson
Work: Jimmie Martin, showroom and office at 77 Kensington Church Street.
Studio in Acton.
Living: Chiswick
Time in London: since 1998
Instagram: @jimmiemartin


Name: Martin Nihlmar
Work: Jimmie Martin, showroom and office at 77 Kensington Church Street.
Studio in Acton.
Living: Shepherds Bush
Time in London: Since 1998
Instagram: @jimmiemartin


Hi Jimmie and Martin! Tell us about yourself!

Jimmie is 43, originally from Sala. I studied art and form at Rudbeck in Västerås, followed by Västerås Art School. From there I went into the world of fashion and modelling for 10 years before starting Jimmie Martin in 2004.

Martin is 51, originally from Stockholm, was brought up in Geneva studying business. At a later stage, he moved back to Stockholm and ended up working at Clark’s Case interior store in Stockholm. Martin met Jimmie one eve out in 1997 and was then dating for the next 7 years.


What do you do for a living? 
We customise furniture and art and create full interior designs for residential as well as commercial projects.


Martin and Jimmie in their store


Where in London do you live? What’s the best part about your areas? 
Jimmie moved to Chiswick High Road soon 3 years ago, where he bought his first property with his current husband which is a part-time home. We picked this location to be closer to the boys’ mother. We absolutely LOVE Chiswick. It is full of cafes, restaurants, cute shops, flower markets, antique markets, and everything you wish for. Plus only a few minutes walk to the river Thames and the many pubs. Love it!


Martin lives in Shepherds Bush with his partner and dog, but is also looking to move more towards Chiswick. Our studio/workshop is in Acton which is only a 15min walk from both of our homes. So perfect.


Chiswick is really a beautiful area, what are your favourite restaurants and pubs in the area?

Chiswick got so many nice places.. it is difficult to choose! Most bars, pubs and restaurants all have outdoor seating on the front and the back, so it all depends on the mood you are in. The nearest venue next to the building I live in is Villa Di Geggiano. It is an Italian restaurant with a great outdoor terrace covered with grapevines. I also have a 7 min walk from the high road to the river, which is so amazing to go for a drink or to eat and watching the rowers and sailing boats going by. You have several pubs there as well, but The Old Ship up on the balcony give you amazing sun and view and it feels like you are not in London. In Chiswick, you are totally spoilt for choice. And of course…  just across the bridge, you have Barnes…  and Totally Swedish which comes in handy!


Local restaurant Villa Di Geggiano in Chiswick. Photo: Pinay Flying High



How did your time in London start?
In 1997 at the start of our relationship, we actually visited London for a week, and Martin was planning to open up an interior store with an old friend of his. We stayed in South Kensington that week and got our first taste of London, so very soon London became a part of our plans to relocate to. Within 6 months we had packed up and then we moved to London in early 1998 and have been here since. Both of us love London and do not regret for a second that we picked this city.


Residentials in Belgravia by JimmieMartin 


Tell us all about your furniture business! 
Our business was never really planned. We used to create pieces of furniture just for ourselves and one day someone saw our pieces so we had to register the business in 2004, haha. In the beginning, this was just like a hobby for us. In 2005 we received the ‘best new designer in practice‘ award, at the Design and Decoration Awards, covering 25 different categories. We were also shortlisted for best furniture designer up against brands like Kelly Hoppen and others. So we won an award without selling a single piece of furniture. Can you believe it? At that time it all kicked off! Orders and press started flowing in and we had to take this seriously and get a studio as we were just working in our living room for the fun of it.


It all started by buying antique and vintage pieces of furniture and refinished them, but we took it one step further and created handpainted artwork on top of each piece. Nobody did these kinds back then so guess we started a trend. Now, you have 1000s of up cyclers all over the world. We have since then, from furniture, branched out with cushions, wallpapers, lighting, art, sculptures, and full interior design services. With clients all over the world and international exhibitions, we have clients including everyone from the everyday person to a bunch of celebrities and royalties. Actually, even the queen of pop herself, Madonna!

Armchair specially commissioned by Madonna for her Superbowl Halftime Show 2012


Wow, Madonna, can we ask – what did she get? And who would be a dream customer?
Yes… she got lots of different pieces for her different homes. I can’t talk about what those were though. However, one thing I CAN talk about is when we were commission to create the piece she was carried in on at Superbowl halftime performance.


If a “Svensson” would like to buy some of your art, would they afford it? What do I get if I wanted to invest £500 in your art?
Haha, a “normal” Svensson…   we are currently working on limited edition prints that hopefully should be launched this autumn. These should be within the £500 price range. Then we have our cushions which can easily transform someone’s interior, as a statement piece or a whole bunch of them mixed together… they start at £95!


We are big fans of your furniture art and have passed your shop several times and always snapped a photo or two. Have you guys always been interested in furniture? 
Jimmie was always interested in furniture and interiors from a young age. He spends his savings from after school work on antique markets and Ikea and redoing his room on a monthly basis. Adding the art studies, the fashion, and interest in interiors, it all somehow unplanned came together in Jimmie Martin.

Naughty Angels


Swedish style is described as minimalistic, so the opposite of your art, why did you start it here, and not in Sweden? Do you think it would work in Sweden as well as here?
As we had already moved to London long before starting Jimmie Martin, and it was in London we were discovered and launched we kind of didn’t have a plan for anything else. Just had to jump on the opportunity as it was handed to us. Having said that though…. Swedish design is of course known for being very minimal and clean and with no specific colour…  The only Swedish thing with Jimmie Martin is that we are both Swedish! So, our style is probably the complete opposite of the classics in Sweden. We create statement pieces and interiors with colour, which probably suits UK more.


I think it will work in Sweden as well as in London and the rest of the world through….  We do have clients in Sweden, but I think the swedes are not brave enough to mix styles …. Some are of course, but the majority I think still finding it difficult to get away from that typical Scandi look.


But all summed up – we create stuff that makes you stop and smile.


Maybee a tiring question but how did the lockdown affect your business?
We had the busiest time ever during the pandemic in our 17 years history of Jimmie Martin. We also expanded and moved our workshop to acton.. so our Kensington Church Street space is our showroom, office and interior design studio. The reason for this as we all know is that everyone had time to stay at home and rethink their interiors as it’s now more important than ever to feel happy at home. And interiors play a huge impact on peoples well-being. Whether it’s a complete transformation or just adding a few pieces here and there that will make you smile and be proud of.





Give your best tips to a startup entrepreneur! 
Be original.. don’t launch something someone else already is doing. Be inspired, but DON’T copy. And make sure to understand it takes time and effort to build a brand. Rome wasn’t built in a day.


What inspires you?
Being surrounded by interiors stuff, furniture and accessories make you constantly inspired. Also constantly sourcing for new interior design projects and visiting interior trade fairs gives you new sights, of course. With that said it’s quite easy to add some extra bits here and there when shopping for clients, but that is not always a good thing! Hahaha – we both need a bigger house!


Last but not least, how did you find LondonSwedes and what are the most Swedish about you guys?
I came across LondonSwedes on Instagram! Not exactly sure how… but.. one thing leads to another. And if I see someone posting OSTBÅGAR on their page I stop whatever I do and I am sold! Hahaha!

The most Swedish things about us…hmm. We are both very proud to be Swedish and proud to being brought up with standards and morals as you do in Sweden and also the constant love of Swedish nature, Swedish food and candy etc. But by being in London we don’t have a lot of Swedish life around us. We even speak English to each other, weirdly after both of us have been here since 1998 and spoken most days since we moved here. But we will always see ourselves as SWEDISH.. but we are Londoners.  And proud to be both.