Linda Morey-Burrows, founder and principal designer of interior design practice MoreySmith, on how she got started in property, her best and worst purchases and her number-one travel destination
How did you join the industry?
I studied 3D design at Berkshire College of Art and Design. This experience fully immersed me into the world of design with daily life-drawing, photography and ceramics. After graduation, I worked as a freelance for design firms Fitch and AID, where I helped design the clock and watch department at Rackhams in Birmingham, which really kickstarted my career in property. I then went on to work with David Leon and Partners, designing everything from receptions to laboratories to nightclubs.
What does your job entail?
After 10 years of experience in the industry, I set up MoreySmith where
I continue to lead the business, strategy and design direction of the practice nearly 30 years later. Working hands-on with my clients, I drive innovative design to create beautifully detailed and sustainable home and work environments. Our goal is always to create comfortable environments that ultimately help make people’s lives happier and more successful.
What do you like most about the property industry?
While there is a healthy level of competitiveness within the sector, there is also a real sense of community where people help each other. I love that I have known so many people for 30 or 40 years professionally – many of whom have become good friends.
And what do you dislike most about it?
As a woman starting my career in the mid-1980s, the world of property definitely felt like a boys’ club. Things have massively changed since then, but I do recognise some aspects of the past still at play sadly.
What would you change about the property industry?
The industry can be very bureaucratic within large companies, which can make it tricky to get things done and to be creative. Occupiers tend to trust us more and consider us as their partners. I find we tend to get the best results from these types of collaborative relationships.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
Being a woman in property does still feel like an issue. I have sometimes noticed that if I go into a meeting, some men will only look at my male colleagues and assume that I am on the ‘cushion-throwing’ side of the business! With that said, we have an excellent furniture fixtures and fittings team, and selecting materials and colours is a very important part of every project for us.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Running a successful and happy business for nearly 30 years is a huge achievement. We recently completed the transformation of Henrietta House to create a world-class London office for CBRE’s 2,000 employees. I love going back into the building and seeing everyone working in such an open and collaborative way – they look super happy.
What do you value in people?
Honesty. I much prefer frank and direct dialogue when working on projects as it makes it much easier to address any potential problems.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Make sure to pick a job you absolutely love doing. If you pick the right career and love the people you work with, it shouldn’t feel like working.