A conversation with Megan Morton – the blunt fringed, charmingly quirky, in-demand interior stylist – is quite unlike any other. She’s the jack of innumerable trades (writer, teacher, self-proclaimed “house whisperer”) and her styling clients span from corporate types and celebrities to the pages of Vogue Living and Inside Out magazine.
Morton runs prop business The Propery, weekly creative classes at The School and a photographic studio out of an enormous space in Rosebery (shared with Kitchen by Mike and furniture store Koskela). She describes it all as “a magical unicorn arrangement of different white rooms…bright and pure and simple, but actually really complex because of all the work that goes on”. In a word, Morton is intoxicating.
We decided to take a peek at Morton’s workspace, to sift through the items she keeps close at hand. What does the desk of a full-time stylist look like?
One floor up from her studios, the space has a hotchpotch vibe, objects creeping in from every periphery. Crocheted pineapples hang from the roof in a cluster; a large poster quotes Proust; and trophies hold stacks of sunglasses. The walls are littered with Morton’s latest treasures: letters from “beautiful people” who have taken one of her master classes, an African mask from a New York street dealer. There are handmade totem poles in a corner, purchased from Bunnings and gaffer-taped blue. They look like giant sticks of candy. Morton tells me that she gaffer-taped stripes around her entire house for her birthday party last year. She’s not joking. “Bright blue, Klein blue,” she recalls. “It was the best thing ever! It was like we were in a striped circus top!”
The desks in this room (and there are several of them, for Megan shares her office) are all white. She bought them from Freedom Furniture after a tireless search for something clean and unisex. “I like trophy chairs, not trophy desks. We worked on a Freedom campaign; I did the office space for them and literally bought the shoot. It was just really beautiful.” Her chair is sleek and stackable – the iconic Series 7 Arne Jacobsen.
Morton’s desk is an ocular feast, a strange contrast of eccentric knickknacks and sensible work tools. There’s a gold hole-punch, purchased on a recent trip to Melbourne with The School. A large, plain water jug, big enough “to fit a Pellegrino exactly” sits close by. An electric pencil sharpener is a permanent office feature – Morton loves to walk around styling classes midway through and sharpen every pencil. There is the classic telephone (unplugged), shaped like a pair of red lips; a mound of fresh flowers, picked mischievously from her child’s suburban kindergarten; a stack of soft pink ballet shoes, sourced for a recent job. All of this in trays picked up at a roadside stall in the south of France.
Beside Morton’s desk is a gargantuan doctor’s bag – a beaten-up Hermes number that has become her right hand man. “When I go to meetings, I can fit an iPad, a magazine, a whole computer and fabric inside… Imagine the doctor calling [with this]!” she laughs. “‘Come inside, doctor, and help me with my bronchitis’.”
Indeed, Morton’s office is a little like the aesthete herself – bright and intense and giddily joyful, but never too much. As we walk through it, running fingers over bookshelves, examining a button machine (“we accidentally broke that, it was too much fun”), Morton talks constantly and excitedly, her words circling back and doubling over, letting every story seep into another. We discuss her fascination with the horseshoe (as a stylist’s prop, a doorstop and a lucky talisman). This leads to the story of her family Christmas tree from a couple of years back, a majestic number strung only with gold jingle bells and horseshoes. “The wind would come through and they would all flutter and go ‘shhhhh’,” says Morton. “It was like you were following a Moroccan horse.” Without pausing, she moves to the next story: the time she made a bid for Phar Lap’s horseshoes, which sold, predictably, for as much as a house. “I was going to buy them for my dad, who loves horses. He is married to a horse whisperer. A real one.”
While Morton’s desk is distinctly indistinct (there is too much going on for anything else), I wonder what she would advise someone who erred towards the unusual. “I would go to all the auction houses first and see if there was anything that gave character. It’s similar to a dining table. If budget and time were no option, you’d either get the beautiful, sexy modern one and the crunchy older chairs…or the other way round.” She sticks with her personal championing of the plain desk however. “You don’t want the desk to be better than you. You want it to carry you.”