Lori Morris: Artist Designer
Lori Morris and the team at House of LMD have become among the world’s most sought-after high-end interior designers through their creativity, originality and “no-rules” approach.
Lori Morris dreams in colour.
It’s something that provides only a glimpse into the soul and spirit of this fascinating artist extraordinaire, one of the hottest and most acclaimed high-end luxury interior designers in the world.
Visionary, innovator, maestra, dreamer and thinker, Lori Morris is all those things — and much more. She sees interior space as a blank canvas upon which she can create her magnificent brilliance without boundaries, a tableau for her distinctive style of storytelling by design.
If there is one rule Morris has followed during her 36 years in the design business, it is that there are no rules for this exceptionally free spirit. “If anyone asks me what my design philosophy is, it’s ‘No rules,’” says Morris. “I mean that from the perspective of not thinking about it. I don’t carry a tape measure, I don’t carry pen and paper — I just use whatever is in my head. I can just envision it — and if I like it, I just make it work. Proportion is absolutely key, the infrastructure of a design is key, but in terms of the finished product, if I love it and think it’s going to be fabulous, then that shows. I don’t care if there is a rule book that says this or that because I’ve got my own rule book — and in my rule book, there are no rules.”
Morris spoke to Dolce in her stunning and natural-light-infused home office on the outskirts of Toronto, the epitome of her no-rules design philosophy. The space in what she calls her “jewel box” is an eclectic and layered collection of colours, shapes, woods, mirrors, cabinetry, finishings and comfortable fabrics — a showcase and perfect representation of this artist-designer.
Lori Morris Design (LMD) and the House of Lori Morris Design (House of LMD) were established in 1987. Today the award-winning Toronto-based House of LMD has a team of 25 artists and craftsmen and is internationally recognized by Architectural Digest and the Andrew Martin: Interior Design Review as one of the “World’s Top 100 Designers.” House of LMD has always remained true to itself, carving out its own niche and its own original space on the design spectrum. It’s what attracts clients, and when they see the designs, it is what keeps them coming back.
“Anyone who understands and sees our designs, they really embrace the originality and creativity, the beautification of putting layers and layers together to create so much sumptuousness and sex appeal because you have so many things to look at,” says Morris. “But at the same time the space is completely elegant, flows well together, is completely timeless and it hugs you and it gives you a fabulous feeling. The space is just so full of personality and colour that you are addicted to it because it’s unbelievably stunning.”
“Stunning” has to take into account the practicalities of the space you are designing, however, which brings up the age-old question: is design an art, or is it a science? In Morris’s opinion, art and science in design must work in tandem.
“It is art if you’re an artist,” she says with confidence. “But it’s a combination of art and science, for sure, because the science of design dominates everything we do. Math is involved, engineering is involved and all kinds of details have to be done from a scientific perspective. No design works without the appropriate engineering or the math and putting everything together from the perspective of proportion, but from an artistic perspective there are many different types of designers. I happen to be an artistic designer and my approach always begins from a point of originality and creativity, and as an artist being able to explore one’s own creativity in putting together different pieces in whatever style they may be in. There are other designers who work differently and may not be as exploratory as I am.”
“I happen to be an artistic designer and my approach is always from a point of originality and creativity.”
The orbit around Lori Morris has a very strong gravitational pull — to her confident, energetic, effervescent, infectious and happy personality. While she can certainly look stunning dressed for the ball in a free-flowing gown, this girl from a small town is more at home in torn jeans and bare feet, engaging with nature. It might be this contrast that allows Morris to skilfully, artfully and playfully execute any style a client has in mind. There are as many layers to Lori Morris as there are to her signature layering design style, and she has never been afraid to cross traditional lines with her innovative thinking and approaches to design, which she brings to clients around the world and across her global portfolio.
“The advantage I have as an artist and a designer is that I can do any style that anyone wants — no style is off-limits for me,” says Morris. “What LMD brings to the table is that whether you want very clean or modern or zen, or over-the- top Versailles, or classic traditional, or even our own signature style, which I call “sexy French,” we bring a certain level of elegance and sex appeal and personality to whatever design we’re doing. So, we’ll make an all-white house exciting, or an all-beige or all-grey house exciting, because we have that skill of bringing an overall feeling of elegance and timelessness, and that gives us a very large bandwidth to work with in terms of whatever design anybody really wants.”
This versatility and an almost chameleon-like approach, in being able to adapt to any creative assignment and the brilliance of the end result, has House of LMD a frequently recognized award- winner in the world of international design. In 2022, the company was honoured as the gold winner of the International Design Awards Europe for a 14,000-square-foot five-bedroom Toronto mansion it designed as a luxury hotel. It was also the 2022–2023 winner of the Canadian Property Awards Interior Design for Best Residential Interior of a Private Residence.
Morris feels a key to her success is that she is an artist and that she feels, sees and experiences everything through that essential creative lens, finding and drawing upon everything around her as inspiration.
“If you are a true artist to the core, it’s in you, that’s it, end of story,” she observes. “You cannot describe that, teach that or explain that to anybody — it’s just a part of me. But inspiration as an artist, it’s from nature, it’s from architecture, it’s from music or from fashion — it really is from everywhere. It might just be a shape that you see or how a tree forms or perhaps a shadow on the sidewalk that inspires you to do the design of a new carpet — which actually just happened to me. If you see life through the lens of an artist or a completely creative person, you look at life with a much different perspective than someone who may not see life that way. Which means that everything in front of you is an opportunity for inspiration.”
Despite all the recognition built up over her career, Morris does not measure her success through money or the many honours and awards she has achieved or the accolades she has received. For Lori Morris, success isn’t material or tangible — it comes from a much deeper and human place. “Artists can be insecure and very humble. We like to hear we’ve done a great job,” says Morris. “My job is to make my clients happy. Happiness is the key to life — when you can figure out howto make yourself happy and live a happy life, that’s everything. It’s not about the money, it’s not about things, it’s not about any thing — it’s about happiness. So when you feel that you can possibly be a vehicle to create happiness for someone else, that’s very cool.”
Artistry can be expressed in many different forms, through words, music, painting, fashion, architecture, sculpture or design. But through whatever medium an artist uses, what is fundamental is the artist’s essential gift — an ability to connect with their audience because of their confidence and bravery in showcasing their feelings and talents.
Lori Morris and House of LMD have an innate ability to connect with their clients and delight all their senses with designs that are sexy, colourful, playful, thoughtful, flowing and immersive in all dimensions. There is no mistaking a Lori Morris design — artistry, originality and creativity that feed both the spirit and the soul.
INTERVIEW BY MICHELLE ZERILLO-SOSA