What: Home furnishings showroom.

Where: 7101 France Av. S., Edina, 612-208-0557.

British accents in Edina

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD
  • Star Tribune
  • November 12, 2012 - 8:03 AM

Adele and Prince Harry shop at Andrew Martin. Even Queen Elizabeth has ordered fabrics.

Now Twin Citians can find out why the London flagship store is a popular destination.

The U.K.-based home furnishings empire has opened a showroom in Edina, where global style meets vintage Americana.

Founder Martin Waller described the Andrew Martin style as "fusion interiors. Our designs are influenced by cultures from around the world," he said.

Waller started the company in 1978 in London as a textiles design house. It's grown into home decor stores in scores of cities worldwide, including Moscow, Shanghai, Cairo and Athens. The new Edina showroom is the Midwest's first.

The furniture's looks range from a classic velvet wingback to a mod pod chair. Rugged western leather sofas mingle with sophisticated Art Deco glass coffee tables, while accessories are a mix of industrial, modern, Asian and antique. But there's no doubt that the store's showstopper is a massive metal horse made of car parts -- with a $7,995 price tag.

We caught up with the charming Brit as he was adding finishing touches to the Edina store, along with CEO Tim McGeehan, who grew up in Moorhead, Minn.

Q Why did you decide to open the first Midwest store in the Minneapolis area?

MW Minneapolis is an epicenter for business, and the people are really design-savvy. They love their homes and like to entertain -- the cold weather probably plays a part. And Tim McGeehan is from here. There's an Ethan Allen, Restoration Hardware, Room and Board nearby. We have our own aesthetic, and I hope we bring something to the kitchen.

TM We also do a great deal of custom-order fabric business, and you can buy all our merchandise off the floor.

Q What's the Andrew Martin look?

MW Multi-layered, multicultural, multi-collectible masculine comfort. We have everything from a Chesterfield leather sofa with an American flag painted across it to a vintage Playboy poster reprinted from a 1960s cover.

Q Why do you include vintage collectibles, such as a barber chair and antique toys?

MW I like the patina of use -- when you can feel the history of a bygone era. I love antique rocking horses -- it's like stepping back into a nursery of an English countryside house. I find them when I'm traveling around the world at flea markets, auctions and from dealers.

Q What design rules do you follow?

MW I believe the essence of decorating is that it should reflect the personality of the person who lives there. We don't lay out rules. British style is about not looking like it's been decorated when you're finished. Don't be intimidated by the tyranny of taste.

Q What upcoming trends do you see in home furnishings?

TM Wallpaper is making a resounding comeback. We just launched a wallpaper line with 80 different patterns and have even done chalets in France with the log wallpaper. There was this movement toward smaller furniture because of lack of space. But we're offering bigger masculine pieces that are sturdy so you can put your boots up on it.

Q What's a fun pop-culture piece?

MW The Beatles chair covered in fabric of the Beatles from the Sgt. Pepper album. Barbara Bach walked into the Los Angeles store and bought a couple of them for Ringo.

Q What kind of home do you have?

MW I live in an 1840s villa in London. It's filled with things from my travels.

Q What do you think of Minnesota?

MW Everyone is so hospitable. If I had more time here, I would go to an ice hockey game.

Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619

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