Linda Morey Smith, founder of architect and interior designer MoreySmith
How did you start out?
I came in through design, I was very artistic and wanted to take a course in college to do with art. I left school at 16, and ended up taking a vocational course specialising in interior architecture. When I graduated I worked for two years doing freelance for two of my tutors.
Why did you decide to start your own practice?
It wasn’t actually planned. I had been working for the Thomas Saunders Partnership when I was headhunted by another firm. I found afterwards that this wasn’t what I wanted, but I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go. My clients persuaded me to start my own thing, so I started off with Capital Radio and then Sony Music, but I had a lot of help. It started off as just my PA, a graduate and myself, but now we’ve got 25 staff.
What has been your best project?
I think the EMI headquarters in Kensington, which we have just finished, has been the best. Our clients were lovely, and gave us a free hand. They trusted us to transform their place of work, and this is the project we have won awards for.
What are the negative sides to your job?
It’s very stressful, there’s not enough time to do everything you need to do. You have to balance work and people, but having a good team is helpful. The thing is at the end of one project you know that you have another one to look forward to!
Do you spend more time managing or designing?
I’m a very people person so whatever I’m doing I work closely with people. I like to work closely with my clients to find out what they want, but I also work closely with the team to come up with ideas. I’m not one to sit at a desk sketching or on the computer all day, but I still like to come up with ideas. I balance both.
What are you working on at the moment?
We’ve just won a refurbishment project for Sony, which we’re very excited about. It’s 76,000 ft2, and it would be nice if it were our next EMI. We generally have three or four projects on the go.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
I would say whatever you are interested in, try and get as much experience as possible.
There’s a wide gulf between graduating with a degree, and the real world of work. When we take a postgraduate we know that even if they have an enormous amount of talent it could take about three years before they are really fulfilling that talent. In whatever field, experience is important.
Employment history Worked for architectural firms David Leon & Partners and the Thomas Saunders Partnership before founding interior architect MoreySmith in 1993
Qualifications Four-year vocational course in 3D design at Berkshire College of Art and Design, specialising in interior architecture
Lives Clapham, south London
Family Three children