White walls don’t suit JJ Martin. Her days are spent in the fantastical patterns that characterise her brand, La DoubleJ. Californian by birth, she worked for a while as a marketing director for Calvin Klein in New York – a temple to minimalism, where her colourful vintage-style dresses were definitely out of place – before moving to Milan and, in 2015, founding her company, which has since expanded from fashion into homeware.
Just like her exuberant designs, JJ likes to stand out. Boldness is in her blood. ‘I can’t stand being told “It can’t be done”,’ she says. ‘Stagnation is dominant in Italy and I stubbornly fight it because I think that everything can be changed.’
This refusal to take no for an answer came in handy when, pre-pandemic, she began searching for a new home. Ignoring agencies that said her needs were unrealistic, she found a magnificent early-20th-century apartment on a sunny, tree-lined avenue.
‘I knew this street 20 years ago and now, magically, the universe has brought me back here,’ she says. ‘We talk about chance, but in reality there is a synchronisation to the events of our life. This home has confirmed to me that I must always listen to my intuition.’
Occasionally, though, our instincts can benefit from guidance. For JJ, it was her old friend Raimondo Garau, a fine-antiques dealer, who was able to focus her imagination and stop her making hasty decorating decisions.
‘His advice was extremely helpful; it slowed me down, decreased the number of colours I had in mind and helped me visualise the dimensions of the furniture within the space,’ she explains. ‘I had clear ideas, but they had to be stitched together by an expert eye.’
Of course, much like in her clothing and jewellery collections for La DoubleJ, vintage influences feature heavily in this home. The large velvet sofas, oversized armchairs and wicker pieces in the dining area are all pre-loved. Even her kitchen, found by Raimondo, had a previous owner. There are also contributions from friends: wall lights that resemble eyes from Vincenzo De Cotiis, a vibrant green rug by Campbell-Rey and tables gifted by Molteni & C’s Giulia Molteni.
‘I am lucky to know many creatives who have offered their help,’ admits JJ. She also asked artists to add their creativity to the mix. Kirsten Synge created the wallpaper that winds around the dining room, while Jay C Lohmann is responsible for the starry sky in the meditation room.
The latter is the space in which JJ practises yoga every day; a discipline she has dedicated herself to for over 25 years, but that has had a greater impact on her life more recently. ‘In the three months of lockdown, I was reborn. It was a real detox and my spirituality benefited from it,’ she says. It’s an experience that inspired her latest venture: the opening of a La DoubleJ shop in Milan’s historic fashion district where, in its basement, she hosts meditation sessions and seminars dedicated to wellbeing.
From her home to her business, JJ’s intention is clear: ‘to spread joy, love and benevolence, rather than fear.’ That’s a message we can all get behind. ladoublej.com