Dept: The Good Life
Author: Elyse Glickman
Photos: Adrienne Gunde
Wildflower Linen’s Youngsong Martin strives to make the world more beautiful, one gala at a time.
￼Though Youngsong Martin made a name for herself in fashion design in her career’s “first phase,” it was only a matter of time before her passion for designing unforgettable environments was reignited. This unique talent originated during her childhood in Seoul, where she constantly sought new ways to brighten the sur- roundings of her family’s small home. It resurfaced in 2001 when, while helping her niece make a bold wedding day statement, she found the fabrics available to her “industrial and bland.”
The attention to detail and refinement doesn’t end there. Guestrooms are sprawling enough to feel like a private Tuscan villa. The washroom is more spacious than most studio apart- ments I’ve lived in as a college student, and its gold fittings and crystal lamps made me feel like I was in Pretty Woman. And what does every Pretty Woman do? Take a bubble bath, of course! I have never felt so fancy taking a bath; the separate soaking tub is big enough to fit two comfortably (or in my case, me and my sizeable food-baby from the night’s eating (mis) adventures). By nightfall, I was nestled in exquisite European linens atop a bed that embraced the body just so. Oh, their bed ruined me for life; theirs is the beautiful carriage to my pump- kin back at home.
￼￼It led Martin to found Wildflower Linens, a company that revolutionized the field of special event décor and linens. Her stun- ning tabletop concepts and couture-hewn chair covers have since wowed attendees of the Vanity Fair and Oscars Governor’s Ball after-parties, a DreamWorks premiere at the Venice Film Festi- val, as well as numerous charity galas, weddings and Presidential Library events. “While much of the interior design field focuses on permanent installation, there is a certain artistic freedom that comes with designing interiors for a specific event,” she says. “It is the story of Cinderella, where you have the potential to make any- thing happen. Another advantage is that when I design something statement-making for an event, the chair I am creating the design for will not talk back to me.”
After all that rest and relaxation, I could have opted for an array of activities: a golf outing on the 380-acre, Tom Fazio-designed golf course; dinner at Addison, its AAA 5-Diamond restaurant, or even a complimentary limousine ride within 14 miles of the estate. (I contem- plated utilizing this service to dine at a nearby taco stop. Hey, whether inhaling cabeza tacos or nibbling on caviar, a true lady always travels in style.) Instead, I opted for a beautification day at The Spa, its award-winning, 21,000-square-foot, full-service day spa.
￼￼Youngsong Martin in her studio.
“When planning a look for a one-night event, I focus on what’s on the tabletop rather than the surroundings,” she says. Whether you have an apartment or a mansion, “figure out what things you want your guests to pay attention to at your event. Next, transform those decorative ele- ments into a sensory experience. Guests will be drawn in from the moment they see the flicker- ing of the candles, and colors of the tabletop. Once you have made a statement, guests will focus on that rather than the rest of the house.”
In the coming months, however, Martin plans to expand to a “third phase” of home décor, bringing the glamour of special events to the everyday home. “When planning a look for a one-night event, I focus on what’s on the tabletop rather than the surroundings,” she says. Whether you have an apartment or a mansion, “figure out what things you want your guests to pay attention to at your event. Next, transform those decorative ele- ments into a sensory experience. Guests will be drawn in from the moment they see the flicker- ing of the candles, and colors of the tabletop. Once you have made a statement, guests will focus on that rather than the rest of the house.”
Color is one way Martin likes to make a statement. “We are moving away from the natural ‘eco’ look, like burlap and natural fibers, and are moving back to bright colors like orange and fuchsia, but in a completely different way from a few years earlier when Indian designs were big,” she says. “Today’s patterns integrate black or white ‘non-colors’ with brights.”
From galas to the home to the community, Martin is all about beautifying her environment. Recently honored for her multi-faceted charity work on National Philanthropy Day in Orange County, Calif., Martin believes “that any solid business model should include social responsi- bility. We need to pay attention to other people regardless of how much our business makes. We need to be a part of the community as well as exist within it.”