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Inspiring Female Founder Spotlight: Linda Morey-Burrows

Linda Morey-Burrows is the Founder and Principal Director of MoreySmith, a successful design and architecture practice she established in 1993. The London-based RIBA Chartered Practice has delivered award-winning workplace, hospitality and residential projects for 3 decades, including the headquarters for Sony Music, CBRE, Moët Hennessy,LVMH, ASOS, Primark and Coca-Cola. In 2022, Linda launched StudioMorey, to focus exclusively on high-end residential and boutique projects.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

After studying 3-Dimensional Design for 4 years, I initially worked as a contract designer for various companies and my tutors. I joined a successful studio where I designed everything from receptions and laboratories to nightclubs before joining a large architectural practice and becoming a Design Director. Over 10 years I built up a wealth of experience and clients and contacts.

At the age of 29, I set up MoreySmith, encouraged by my clients, with Capital Radio’s relocation to Leicester Square being my first major project. At the time I had just five employees, one PC and phone and a studio in Victoria, courtesy of MEPC, a property developer I had been working with.

This year we are celebrating our 30th anniversary and looking back I’m not sure how it was all achieved!  I’ve met so many interesting and diverse people and businesses; working with incredible clients including Sony Music, CBRE, Dunhill, LVMH, Moet Hennessy and Primark, and leading developers and funds.

How did the idea come to you for the company?

I became disillusioned by the way architectural and design companies were run. In the mid-1980s and early 90s they were dominated by men and the culture and workplace were very different from today.

I set up MoreySmith as many of my clients wanted to work with me but not the company I was at and they persuaded me to take the leap. I also wanted to create a studio and atmosphere that I could work creatively in, rather than staring at a screen all day.

My priority was to design incredible environments that people love to be in, for work or leisure.  I am passionate about driving innovation and quality in all our projects – from the smallest details to the biggest architectural refurbishments, I love having BIG ideas and then looking at the minutiae detail, or using unusual material or lighting.

Putting people and the planet at the heart of all our projects means we can create spaces that inspire people while leaving the smallest environmental footprint possible.

How did you achieve company awareness?

Many of our clients are longstanding relationships that we have continued to nurture. For example, Sony Music was one of our first clients in the early 1990s and we have recently finished working on two major projects together. Similarly, we have worked with Blackstone Chambers, a barristers’ chamber for almost three decades.

I’m a people person and love to be in the room, becoming part of the client team by understanding their objectives and aspirations. Developing this core vision with a client means that they often come back to collaborate with us again and again. In terms of establishing new relationships, word of mouth has always been our most successful marketing tool. 

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

Initially, I borrowed £20k from a  family member in 1993 and paid it back in full just four months later. Other than buying property, I have never had to borrow again.

What are the key successes?

Celebrating our 30th anniversary this year is an incredibly exciting moment for MoreySmith. We have a fantastic team of designers and architects, which has been a major contributor to our success, and growing such a happy and thriving business is something I am very proud of.

We recently unveiled Sony Music’s HQ in King’s Cross, a world-class workspace for over 900 employees and a cool recording studio in Clerkenwell for up-and-coming artists. As Sony Music was one of our first clients nearly 30 years ago, it has been incredibly rewarding to collaborate with them again and to create a space that represents the future of music.

Revisiting projects and seeing how much everyone is still enjoying their building is one of my favourite parts of the job. Henrietta House, the CBRE’s London HQ we created for Lazari Investment, is another project that still excites me. I love going back to see everyone working in such an open and collaborative way over a year since we relaunched the space.

Plus, we are profitable which always helps!

What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these? 

Being a successful woman in the property industry has presented challenges, as it is still at times a very male-dominated industry. Design can sometimes be undervalued during the process until the benefits are visible but working with amazing clients over the years has enabled us to demonstrate the importance of great design across ground-breaking workplaces, beautiful unique hotels and the home.

We have made our name by introducing elements of residential and hospitality design into the workplace, which changes the entire working culture and wellbeing of staff.  

What are your plans now/for the future?

We are building and strengthening the architectural side of MoreySmith to further grow our redevelopment and refurbishment work, which forms our commitment to sustainability and re-positioning older heritage buildings.

Last year I launched StudioMorey, a dedicated residential studio using our three decades of experience and the creative flair of the best up-and-coming designers. While we have always designed amazing homes alongside our other projects, this new studio gives us an exciting outlet to create inspiring homes for private clients and developers as well as boutique hotels.

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?

I’ve always told my three grown-up children, to find something you love doing all day long. If you pick the right career and people to work with, it will never feel like a chore. Starting your own business is not the same as a 9-5 career so you have to find something that you are passionate about and happy to dedicate your time to make sure it is successful.

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

Be strong and determined and don’t let people talk you out of your aspirations or goals.

Work as a team. I take inspiration from sports teams to ensure we are working together to be stronger, and ultimately more successful.

Finding the right people is really important, as they will support you in your vision.

Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?

I’m in awe of people who find time for philanthropic endeavours, and scientists, researchers and designers who dedicate years to finding new sustainable materials and methods of construction.

I also love working with artists and take great inspiration from the freedom of expression they have, without the constraints of functionality and compliance we have in our industry, from sculptors to musicians and fashion designers.

For example, Kate MccGwire is a sculptor and installation artist who principally works in the medium of feathers. One of her largest framed works to date using pigeon feathers will be installed at 23 Savile Row, a MoreySmith project completing at the end of 2023.

Fernando Casasempere, is another inspiring artist who we collaborated with at CBRE’s HQ and who we are working with to launch a StudioMorey/Casasempere Studio collection in the summer.

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?

Live life…always strive for happiness.

Treat people as you’d like to be treated yourself

Failure is part of the journey to success

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