Glam Exclusive: Inspiration and Wanderlust with Robert Lee Morris

By  January 11, 2013

OVER BAUBLES AND BRACELETS, Glam sat down with the legendary jewelry designer Robert Lee Morris in his studio space to talk about his illustrious career. While his accessories have decorated everyone from Iman to Madonna, Morris remains as humble, genuine, and appreciative as can be. From collecting magical objects such as tumble weeds from New Mexico and Venetian spearheads to traveling the Andes with archeologists to collaborating with Fergie and the Olsen twins, the jewelry designer not only opened our mind to the idea of flow – becoming so focused on your work that you lose all sense of time and your surroundings- but also inspired our wanderlust, adding a few new destinations to list, inciting the need to add new stamps in our passports in the name of inspiration.

Q: How do you find inspiration?
A: I can hardly go to work without becoming inspired. I find myself taking photographs of subway ads. I get an itch to take movies of the train coming into the station with the idea that I’m going to turn that into a subway drama. It just happens constantly. Sometimes it’s too much and I just need to go to sleep.
Q: Your studio is full of objects you’ve found through your travels. Can you explain how you came to collect everything?
A: I have trunk loads of magical objects that I’ve collected my whole life. People think of me as a pack rat, but a packrat of spiritual objects. I had to take a storage area out in Connecticut where I’m putting, prioritizing the things that don’t really need to be in front of me. It’s all there so I have more room to look at my magical objects.
Q: How has travel influenced your life?
A: I was born traveling. I’m from an air force family. By the time I turned 18, my parents had made 23 major moves. All of these educational chances that happened to me were par for the course. When I left home and was on my own I started adventure traveling and I would go to Africa to go on safari or Montana to go to a dude ranch or travel with Native Americans through the area on horse back. I did an amazing adventure trip climbing into the Andes with a group of archeologists who were discovering and digging in a lost city as old as 50,000 years old and everything’s still there but to get there you have to go by mules into the cloud forest and that experience. These experiences were really deep in terms of forming who I am today. I also traveled a lot when I was studying shamanism because the courses were always on the west coast.
Q: What are some of your favorites places to travel?
A: Out of the country, my favorite places are Japan, Rio de Janeiro – the most beautiful city in the world. Those two countries really had a lot to do with forming who I am. The Japanese zen of appreciating arts and crafts and the Brazilian samba and its sensuous sexual rhythms. Those two worlds were like left brain right brain and I was able to pull it together. I spent a lot of time in mustique. That’s my favorite getaway island. Yet, my big travel plans are yet to come. I would like to travel the Nile and spend a lot of time in Morocco and much more time in Greece.
Q: Who are some of your favorite celebrities to with with?
A: Fergie was one of my favorites recently when the Black Eyed Peas did their national tour about two years ago. She had chosen all my big silver bracelets, really severely large ones and wore the min every performance. I felt like Fergie was my girl then.
Q: What are some of your favorite memories of working with celebrities
A: When you’re working with a fashion designer which I have done on and off for the past 30 years, you end up running into their friends. You end up mingling as part of that group. Donna Karan would often have parties after her shows and I would meet a lot of celebrities that way. Then they would come into my store and if I wasn’t there I would get the call – “Get over here, Faye Dunaway is here,” or “Madonna is here.” I’d run over and meet them and then they’d want to take me out to lunch or to bed or something. Faye was really after me. Candice Bergen came in when she was doing Murphy Brown. I never met her before but she gave me a kiss on my ear that almost made me go deaf.