Be Empowered & Inspired with 35 Years of Creation by Design Queen Lori Morris
Good taste never goes out of style. For Lori Morris, taste spans decades. Branding herself on vibrant, outgoing compositions, Lori Morris has been one of the top Toronto designers for many years. While style and trends may have changed, consistency and quality are always on the table for Lori. She and her design team love monochromatic, avant-garde pieces. Elegant and timeless design is their forte.
Lh Mag first fell in love with Loris Morris in 2014 when she installed a floral dreamland at the Architectural Digest Show in New York City. Then in 2018, we had the honor of featuring the talented designer in the premier print edition of Love Happens Magazine. And so began our love of everything Lori Morris!
Lori’s artistic vision and elegance never cease to delight us. As does her entrepreneurial drive. She began her career knowing little about business, but she had a powerful vision. From there, the Lori Morris brand boomed. Now celebrating her 35th anniversary, it is our honor to feature Lori Morris in a special edition of our Empowered Women Empower series. In this Lh exclusive interview, Lori talks about her humble beginnings, creative mindsets, and future projects for Lori Morris Design. Read on and be empowered!
Celebrating 35 Years of Luxury Design with Lori Morris
Love Happens: As our name and the tagline of our publisher, KOKET denotes, at Love Happens, we are firm believers that you cannot achieve any level of success without love. When did your love affair with design start?
Lori Morris: I would say when I was a very young girl, my mother was always very artistic. We had a classically designed beautiful house that I grew up in. It was always so interesting, but yet at the same time, so elegant and so avant-garde, and I must have obviously inherited that from her. My interest piqued artistically at a very young age. I remember when she would meet the decorators, and I would want to be so involved with my own rooms. I took an interest in it when I was at a very young age. I ended up going to design school and never looked back. I knew that I had found something that I would love forever. I loved it then; I love it now, and I will love it forever.
Lh: Congratulations on your 35th anniversary in the design industry! Tell us about how you first became an interior designer.
Lori: After design school, I worked as an intern at a design firm in Yorkville, which is a trendy area in Toronto. From there, I evolved to open up my own business. I was full of fire, fearless, ready to rock and roll, and just figured I could do it. Extremely young, I knew nothing about business, and I had no clients. I knew nobody in Toronto, and I was very naïve and innocent. It was a huge struggle, and it was a struggle for many years. But in those struggling years is when we learned so much and grew so much and all that pain became the pleasure.
Lh: Describe the major turning points in your career thus far.
Lori: Throughout the journey of 35 years, the overall confidence and skill level of my talent has evolved and become very fine-tuned, which has made me feel the confidence that I feel today. Within those years, there were major marks where we would get a significant client, doing a significant house, which took me to another level. My own style evolved and matured with each completed project.
The pivotal points started with my first 385 square ft studio at Designers Walk. This evolved into purchasing a building and renovating it, and making it into my design studio. Participating in the Architectural Digest show in New York and being published in some significant magazines were great points too. Most recently, I renovated my childhood home to become a beautiful home for me and a showroom to show clients our work firsthand. We also opened up a branch office in Muskoka, which is our cottage country in Ontario. Both of which are wonderful in terms of brand awareness from a business perspective.
Lh: To be successful in design, one must be a master of balancing creativity and business. How do you balance the two?
Lori: I would imagine that if you were a true designer and a true artist like myself, the design part is the easiest part that comes extremely naturally. The business part is difficult, and I’ve got a great team that I can rely on. But the first thing that one must understand is a degree in psychology because managing clients and expectations is actually the hardest part of the job, not the design.
Lh: Do you have any tricks or secrets to balancing the two sides?
Lori: 15 or 20 years ago? No. You work towards this, and you learn as you grow. In terms of right now in our career, we make sure that we pick the jobs that are suitable to both our level of design savvy and what it is that will work for us along with the client. We have an extremely fine-tuned machine where we have a process that’s definite and very organized. Both our business and design departments are very mature. This allows the client process and our own process to be streamlined.
Lh: When it’s time to get creative, how do you shift into that mindset? Do you have any routines?
Lori: I think as a creative artist, you’re always a creative artist. There’s no such thing as getting into a creative zone. If you’re a true artist, you live in that zone. It’s not a matter of turning on a switch, but it’s specifically which client am I working on? Which project am I working on? What is it that this client wants? I may have to shift into that specific gear.
Lh: You do a small story and interview on your Instagram titled Rebel of Luxury. What role does social media play in your company? How have these small interviews helped bring in clients?
Lori: Social media for any design company is very significant. It’s been a very big marketplace for us to get new business and to showcase our work. When I first started, there was no social media. So, you weren’t really able to display your work. A long time ago, the opportunity to display your work was if someone went to someone’s house or if it was in a magazine. Social media has given an opportunity to showcase your work all over the world, which I think is significant. Magazines are almost secondary at this point in time in terms of the display-only factor. For us, it’s been fabulous because we have built a very true following of big fans.
Lh: You talk a lot about a very personal relationship between a client and the Lori Morris design team. As a designer, why is this so important?
Lori: I think that what people have to understand is when you’re building a house, it’s a very personal and emotional endeavor. People don’t understand what’s really involved. You’ll see a finished house to purchase, but you don’t know what happened in the background for those six years to get that organized and built. You get so involved with a client you have to learn about the family. You learn about the dynamics of the family, how the family interacts, what their lives are like, what their social lives are like, how they entertain, and how they don’t entertain. You’re designing these people’s home, their kitchen, their bathrooms, their closets. You have to understand their wardrobe, and what kind of clothes they wear. You really have to understand everything about them.
Lh: With so many fabulous projects completed, we would love to know if there is one that stands out as a favorite and why?
Lori: You can’t really ask a designer that question for many reasons. You wouldn’t want to insult a client by mentioning another client, but I just finished doing my own house, and I’ve picked pieces from everybody’s house that I love and put them in my own house. An area, a room, an archway, a ceiling, a feeling from everybody’s house that I’ve done, that I’ve absolutely loved, and that resonated with me.
Lh: Tell us about your recently launched home collection. What led to your decision to start it?
Lori: With every designer, you have a certain style and certain tastes. You get very personal and very customized in your design-savvy world. When doing large custom homes, you need specific size tables and specific size sofas and chairs. When you’re working on the grounding part of a room, and you need that sofa and that chair to be the right style, the right fabric, and the right color, you end up making everything custom. We’ve been making everything custom for so many years that we thought it would be a nice opportunity to allow the rest of the world to be able to purchase some of our pieces.
Lh: What is the style?
Lori: The home collection is sexy, elegant, and avant-garde.
Lh: Do you have plans to design more pieces?
Lori: Yes, as we create and customize certain things, we add them to the collection on a regular basis.
Lh: As a woman who empowers so many others, who would you say has empowered or inspired you the most?
Lori: I think that to give a specific name of a woman, I would be doing a disservice to pick one because there are so many great ones. Anytime I have ever seen a woman in business that was powerful and successful, whichever field she was in, I always looked up to her and hoped that I would be able to achieve that same kind of success.
As a woman, you go through so many hurdles, and challenges that you know are close for you that aren’t close for a man. I know all throughout my career, starting at 23 years old, how many doors were slammed in my face. How many men looked at me like, you’re just a little woman? Why are you here? So, if I would say that wasn’t a significant part of my career, I’d be lying. Just like any man, we know how hard it is to get here, and we know how hard it is to do what it is we are doing to be successful. You don’t necessarily think of yourself as inspirational because you see all your flaws or all the problems.
But I hope to be a positive influence to any other woman, designer, entrepreneur, or business person after me to be able to carve a path for themselves.
Lh: What is the biggest hurdle or obstacle that you have had to overcome in your career?
Lori: I think not being so emotionally attached because I am such an emotional person, which I believe true artists are. I remember something Warren Buffett once said, “If you’re too emotional, you can’t be in business.” I always try to resonate with that. “Ok, Lori, stop being so emotional.” But you can’t help it because, as an artist, you’re creating something that you want everyone to love. It’s been very difficult for me to be able to take my emotional side out of it, but I’m still trying.
Lh: Who is Lori Morris the Woman? The Business Owner?
Lori: It’s a very simple answer because there are two different Loris. Business Lori is very serious, very focused, very avant-garde, and an on-top-of-the-world fearless leader. The real Lori that most people don’t get to see is a very sweet, kind, down-to-earth, calm country girl at heart who liked to stay home, is very uneventful, and is a very casual kind of person.
Lh: You recently launched a new book of some of your design ideas, and you are constantly working with new clients. What’s next?
Lori: The Lori book is a collection of our best-completed work. We have volume two coming out sometime this year. We have enough for a volume three as well. We’re really just doing bigger and better all the time. We get better every single year. Our designs are more interesting and more detailed all the time. I just want to keep going and continue to be able to have the opportunity to make all these beautiful houses. We are very proud of everything, and I hope that I’m so fortunate to keep the fire burning.
Wrapping Up…for Now!
On its 35th anniversary, Lori Morris Design is just as prevalent and ever more classy. Visit lorismorris.com to shop her new home collection and explore more of her amazing projects. You can also become a part of their major fan following @houseoflmd. We look forward to seeing what Lori has in store in the near future, and for sure on her next big business anniversary.
Words by Alison Morrison