My friend, Morgan, introduced me to Morphe Jewelry many months ago and I am finally getting around to posting the interview. It's good timing though because I will be meeting the designer, Sofia, and seeing the line in person next week at Capsule.
Morphe is a collection of mystical jewelry that is truly captivating. I was first drawn to the celestial designs that feature beautiful opals set in yellow gold and are surrounded by diamonds to create the look of a dreamy night sky. After getting to know Sofia and her inspiration a bit more, I have an appreciation for her pieces that depict spaceships and UFOs. The entire collection is feminine and glamorous, but in the most authentic way. Get to know more about Morphe below!
I started studying as a bench jeweler in 2011 while I was doing my degree and I spent 2015 designing the signature collection and building Morphe as a brand. It’s been a whirlwind of a trip. It’s really something else building a brand up from nothing. You have to be jack-of-all-trades, but it’s fun and exciting in a lot of ways.
I tampered with a lot of different arts growing up. I took painting classes, bound books, sculpted dolls, took photos, obtained a degree in graphic design.. They were always hobbies (except for graphic design, which I studied in school but couldn’t bear to do full-time. It crushed me to squander my creative urges on corporate projects) When I graduated from university I had a retail job and had a quarter-life crisis asking myself what I wanted to do as a career for the rest of my life and jewelry sort of just hit me in the face. It was perfect. I got to work with my hands, which I’d always loved doing, I got to design, be my own boss, work with beautiful materials and give people wearable art that told stories. It was the culmination of so many passions of mine, I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it earlier!
I have a penchant for mythology and storytelling through objects; I always gravitated towards jewelry that was vintage and intricate or symbolized something, and I think that’s reflected in the pieces I design. I usually start off with a theme or concept and fill a sketchbook with iterations. From there I sculpt from wax before casting in precious metals. The process is pretty straightforward but it can sometimes take months to realize a piece. Going from a 2D sketch to a 3D wearable object is never without its hiccups. The piece has to be consistent, durable, and quick to reproduce with almost identical materials.
I’m inspired by the materials and the stories I get to tell through them. I want Morphē to be a sustainable brand, but I’d for sure still be doing this even if I didn’t get paid. I’m honestly just making jewelry I wear for myself, and I’m thrilled others like it as much as I do! Hearing shared love for the designs definitely motivates me to design new pieces and push the envelope on what else I can share.
I love yellow gold because it’s timeless and classic. It’s elegant and refined in a way that elevates the designs. I also really love working with Australian opals but they are very fragile and break easily, especially in the small sizes I work with. I’d like to work with rose gold in the future I hit my mid20s and fell in love with all things feminine and the colour pink. It’s a challenge because I live in Montreal, Canada and finding jewelry supplies here is next to impossible. I often have to import chains or findings to make pieces from NYC or abroad, and there is no rose gold here. Someday!
The signature collection, Urobune, is inspired by aliens and outer space. Urobune is shorthand for Utsuro-bune, which means hollow ship in Japanese. The term is associated with the Japanese legend of an elegant young princess who allegedly landed on the shores of Japan in the 1800s in a UFO-shaped vessel. The story inspired a romantic approach to aliens and outer space.
I’ve loved outer space from as early as I can remember. I’ve been to planetariums in every city I’ve ever visited. I also have a soft spot in my heart for horror and sci-fi, and I wanted to challenge myself to turn these very gritty, dark and architecturally cold concepts into something delicate and graceful.
I kind of like wearing my heart on my sleeve, secretly. I have t-shirts from movies or games I like, and I daydream about getting tattoos of things that are sentimental to me. Creating fine jewelry out of stories that inspire me is just another form of that sort of expression. It’s another kind of secret heart on your sleeve. One that sometimes people can get a glimpse of and you’ll form new relationships from. I’m surprised sometimes by the people that tell me how much they love alien mythology when they spot my little UFO pendant glinting from beneath my coat!
My personal favourite piece is the Urobune Princess Ring. It was the first design I drew in my sketchbook and the last piece of the collection I made. It’s an opal ring with a halo of diamonds around it and it’s a UFO. Quite literally.
I’m so enamored and fascinated by UFOs and aliens, I really wanted to make a piece that was beautiful and wearable but also kind of surreal. I engineered it so that the top two parts (the opal with the halo of diamonds, and the top of the UFO with 12 diamonds meant to simulate spacecraft lights) would spin independently on your finger. The bottom of the ring is carved like the underbelly of a mothership and the ring band is adorned with diamond detailing. I really love it. It’s so feminine and curious. It’s a design that speaks from the core of the brand.
Telling the Story
Before designing jewelry, I worked as a photographer for a short period of time. I shot for things like Bullett Magazine and Vice. The most difficult part of shooting was telling a different story with each shot/shoot, but keeping the whole thing in line with my portfolio as a whole. Once you have practiced something enough, you can bend your style (just as a jazz musician could probably play heavy metal songs), and that sometimes becomes too evident when creating new work, so I try to design my pieces as a thematic collection before approaching them individually. It’s hard at least for me. I find it really challenging. I have particular ideas for the next collection that sort of fit this theme of magical talismans.. But then there’s maybe 45 designs that flat out don’t work within that theme, so I have to ask myself, how much does releasing a thematic collection really matter in the jewelry industry? How much does it matter to me? I decided I don’t care, so I’m making each piece individually or in small groups (thematically), because at the end of the day what most people wear isn’t strictly thematic, but a mix of what they feel inspired by on that particular day.
I’d describe Morphe as a mix between fantasy and luxury. There will always be a story behind each piece. I want every design to be a talisman to either be imbued with the energy of the wearer, or to tell a story that they find sentimental or bewitching. I also find it very important to have the brand be environmentally friendly and responsible. I’m 100% of the brand from every aspect right now, so I have the power, and therefore the responsibility, to make the brand ethical. Sourcing gemstones is sometimes difficult, but I’m happy to work with a gemologist that has similar ethical aims.
The current collection can be described as a graceful exploration of spacecrafts and the galaxy.
Other than jewelry: If I’m not designing or working on the brand I’m either playing games or creating costumes from those games. I said a few questions back that I like to secretly wear my heart on my sleeve, and one way to do that is through cosplay (short for costume play, the art of dressing up as a character from a piece of media).
I picked up the hobby of making costumes from scratch in 2013. It’s kind of geeky but it’s honestly so much fun. I’m a terrible seamstress, so I usually make armored costumes out of Worbla (a German manufactured thermoplastic that becomes malleable when heated). I’ve made 9 costumes since starting out. There’s something really cathartic about bringing a character you admire to life and embodying that for a short period of time.
You can see some of my cosplays here if you’re curious as to what this all looks like!
Favorite artists and designers: Too many to count from! Oh my god. There’s honestly an amazing community of fine jewelers on Instagram that I’m in love with. In Montreal all of the jewelry resources (when I say that, I’m describing metal casters, gemologists, setters, ect) are male dominated, but the community I’ve found online has been filled by some seriously bad-ass women that I admire and am so happy to call my friends. I really love Bittersweets NY she’s been making mind-blowing jewelry for as long as I can remember and I respect her work so much. I love Joy Smith she’s been such an amazing and warm figure in the jewelry community, and her work is really one of a kind. Talk about making a collection that’s unique but cohesive she’s got that on lock-down and it’s pieces you want to bring home every time she makes them.
Also, not a jewelry designer but an artist, I really admire Stella Maria Baer. She makes these beautiful celestial paintings of planets in a way that’s really light and elegant. It’s hard to describe, but it’s been a strong inspiration for my own brand. She was able to take something typically portrayed as dark and brash in its trendy portrayal and bring it someplace graceful.
Currently listening to: I’ve been kind of obsessed with the soundtrack to a game I played called Undertale. The game was written, designed, created, and musically composed by one person. The soundtrack is really beautiful, and there are a lot of fun remixes made by the game’s community. Here’s a dreamy song from the game’s soundtrack.
My favorite designs by Morphe are below - check oout