An interview with Morpheus’ Head of Design, Alex Isaac

What has your first year with Morpheus London been like?
It has been an interesting year! Having known Morpheus first from an external perspective, the company has an unsurpassed name in the industry which is something that really excited me when I was first approached about coming to head the design team. The last year has certainly lived up to those expectations!
We are delivering an amazing product. I didn’t initially realise the incredibly broad range of knowledge and skill sets that we have, nor that the way the company operates has such a point of difference from other luxury brands or conventional interior design businesses. These things combined allows Morpheus to deliver something that is beyond the market expectation and far surpasses my own expectations from when I first joined.
What led you into a career in Design originally?
I grew up in the interior design industry, as my parents are both successful interior designers – so design is very much in my DNA, however initially I rejected a career in design choosing to study civil engineering and law. I soon realised the bar was not my true calling and I found myself working in yacht design which I’d always had an interest in growing up, and it all really started from there, leading to a directorship at Bannenberg the super yacht design studio.
It was a crazy, hectic place to work but working there reinvigorated my enthusiasm for design, especially at the high end of the market. And with the knowledge and experience that was further gained as the Creative Director at Linley, I could see that high end design was a profession, as opposed to a hobby business, and had the potential for it to evolve as a career rather than just something I enjoyed doing. It is the idea of design as a profession which continues to motivate me now.
What continues to fascinate you about design and the design process?
I like looking back at the historic techniques at how things are constructed and I believe this kind of knowledge is a really important aspect of the trade. Many designers tend to focus on the final aesthetic and don’t necessarily consider how it is made or how or where it is going to be used.
At Morpheus we are very much a team that believes in form following function. This is an old adage but I know it’s the right one. Yes we’re here to challenge the creative process but there are fundamental reasons why certain things are manufactured the way they are, and have been over millennia. It is not for us to dictate to experienced makers how to do it; we should learn from them and use their skills to inform our designs.
Is there any period that you think of as the golden age of design?
I really love the 1920s. That’s not to say I’m engrained in art deco but I think if there was any movement that got it absolutely right at the time then it was art deco. It was the perfect storm of design, post First World War, design was emerging from the constraints of Victorian and Edwardian styles, the emancipation of women and the bright young things all culminated in a modern look and feel that at the high end remained opulent but pared back and could also be understated.
It was industrialisation and volume production that also made design accessible. In terms of a movement that has influenced me, not necessarily the aesthetic but how designers at the time approached the design process, is something that I really respect.

What is your own personal taste?
I am a great believer that it doesn’t matter what my own personal taste is. This is an important point for me as I think there are a lot of designers who influence their clients based on their own personal likes and dislikes and that’s certainly not what Morpheus does. For me, the signal of a true professional is the ability to put one’s own preferences aside and design from the sum-of-our-parts as a whole team. I can inform a client based on my own knowledge of design but it’s not appropriate for me, or any of my team, to stamp our own mark on a project.
The pinnacle of design for me is the skill to adapt and interpret any brief to create a client’s dream in any vernacular. My own personal taste changes in any case! It is slightly trend led and my own property is always a work in progress. I’ll put something up one day and take it down the next, or paint a wall a different colour. I change it a lot, that’s what is really nice about decoration; it can be fleeting if it needs to be.
What would be your dream project?
There are so many! I would love to do a project that involves a holistic scheme and master planning for an entire estate. This is not necessarily limited to the UK, it could be a compound in the Hamptons for example, but it would involve an impressive central house as its core, with all of the supporting land functions around it, such as guest homes, stables and other dependencies on the estate, the landscaping surrounding the property and so on.
A project that you could really sink your teeth into for an extended period of time and making sure that all points of that design journey for the client are holistic and joined up. I see the project crossing over between interior design, architecture and estate management, not just limited to the interiors, and would mean designing a lifestyle.
When starting a new project where do you draw inspiration from?
One thing I love about Morpheus is that the whole team draws inspiration from many diverse interests. Personally, of course, I’m motivated by the obvious world of design, going to events and trade shows, seeing the latest and greatest things, however for true inspiration I think we need to look outside the realms of the interiors industry and look to nature, the sea and other forms of design such as industrial design etc.
Vehicular design is a big source of inspiration from me personally, even civil engineering projects can inform interior design, not just from an aesthetic point of view but also learning from the technicalities of such a project.
What’s next for Morpheus? What does the future look like?
I think 2016 will be a very exciting year for Morpheus. Until now the company has sustained itself with a strong and reputable brand name that has been kept to those who are in the know. I think going into 2016 we will have more of a market presence in the areas of continuity work and a growing diversity of projects from private homes, and luxury spas, to cutting edge showrooms which allows us the opportunity to showcase a variety of projects across a number of different disciplines and skills to a wider audience.
I am really starting to see the recognition come through of what we do as a company. This is very rewarding for me personally, and the team, but I believe it will also lead to even more interesting commissions. That ability to challenge myself and the design team through unique design projects and clients is what makes us a better company.

For more information regarding the Morpheus Design House please contact info@morpheuslondon.com.

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