Joe Martin was born in Connecticut and attended the Parsons School of Design both in New York and Paris before the start of WWII (Martin’s birth and death dates are as yet unknown). While at Parsons, Martin studied advertising and illustration. Though fashion was not his focus, he was asked to teach a course in fashion illustration to his fellow students before graduating himself.
In the advent of WWII, Martin returned to New York and began working for the industrial designer Eugene Lucks. Later, he took a position at Macy’s in the display department where he remained for the next five years. Throughout this period, Martin was illustrating editorial articles and advertisements which were featured in various publications such as Vogue, House Beautiful, Today’s Woman, and House & Garden.
Martin shifted to textile design in the 1950s. Moving first to Paris and then Milan (where he would remain for the rest of his life) he created designs for companies in the U.S. and Europe including Patterson Fabrics, Quaintance, Arundell Clarke Ltd., Bloomcraft Inc., JOFA Inc., Piazza Prints Inc., Suzanne Fontan, Goodall Fabrics, Inc., and Falconetto.
Throughout his design career, Martin worked closely with Ken Scott (a fellow Parsons’ alum and fashion designer known for his exuberant fabric designs popular in the late-1960s and 1970s). In 1958, Martin, Scott, and Vittoria Fiorazzo founded Falconetto, a Milanese-based company specializing in printed furnishing materials. In the 1960s, Ken Scott and Joe Martin produced textile designs for Robin Roberts, founder of Clarence House.
Some of Martin’s career highlights include:
- Winning the AID International Award in 1965 for the wallpaper design for Piazza Print titled ‘Singeries’.
- “Room portraits”: a series of renderings of rooms designed by well-known designers such as Ruby Ross Wood, William Pahlman and Billy Baldwin, published both in Vogue and House & Garden.
The following sources were consulted in the preparation of this biographical note:
Brown, Vivian. “Fabric Designer Has New Ideas and Criticism for Industry.” The Greensville News, 11
Harris, Helen. “Romance.” Home Furnishings Daily, 10 January 1968.
Narvaez, Alfonso A. “Ken Scott, 72, Dies: A Fashion Designer Known for his Fabrics.” The New York
Times, 27 February 1991.