Success In The City:
By Cyrena Wages
Photography by McKendree Walker
Leslie Murphy is known as the owner of Murphy Maude Interiors, powerhouse full-service interior architecture and design firm, with sister textile company Mable Originals (which collaborates with local artists to create bespoke pieces, textiles, fashion and furniture products). Founded in 2013, Murphy Maude Interiors has transformed from a one-woman run boutique business to an internationally published 20 employee firm servicing Memphis and Nashville (employing an all-female staff apart from their beloved warehouse managers Mike and Spike). But today we wanted to peel the onion a bit further, one that has proven to be layered, dynamic, artful, and impactful.
An Alabama native, Murphy found love for art young, born with an undeniable inclination towards self-expression. She grew up painting, drawing, and cutting out Southern Living magazine clippings to “build her dream house.” She moved to New York early in her career and found herself working for Columbia University, living near the Chelsea Art District. After immersing herself in all that Chelsea had to offer and traveling to cultural centers of the world, life brought her to Memphis in 2009. She left the world of academia and dove into her background in art and passion for design. We find many things fascinating about Leslie Murphy, and her art-forward approach to business and life is just one of them. Enjoy as we go behind the curtain and get to know the woman behind the work.
What were you like as a young girl growing up in Madison, AL?
I spent most of my time on a farm with my grandparents Mable and Frank Joe. We had an orchard and it was an idyllic life that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. I was an artist and a free-spirited, wildflower child. I loved to play dress-up in my Granny’s square-dancing skirts and trouble through the creeks and fields. It was wonderful and Mable made me feel like I was loved without question.
What is MMI’s unique strength in this field?
We look at everything through the lens of art. MMI and our Mable product line are used to connect people back to their environment in a way that matters to them. For example, we are creating a wall mural out of a family of 5’s original artwork for their art room. We are curating it and editing through our in-house art department to make something that is truly custom and really means something in their home.
What sparked the idea for Mable Originals and where did the name come from?
As mentioned above, Mable was my maternal Grandmother. We shared a very close bond. She taught me all I know about nature, goodness, simplicity, and joy. She was also a self-taught artist in her own right. I have always wanted to get back to the heart of art and creativity in my business. I wanted to find a way to serve our clients and one day other designers through custom, art-based products and this textile venture was it!
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I am actually an introvert. I get most of my energy and best ideas from being alone.
What advice do you have for a young person coming up in your line of business?
Go to school and learn the tools and programs like Revit and get licensed! If not, and you choose the alternative path that I did, hire the best technical people in the business to support you! And do a badass internship to really understand how this business works. It is a joy and a gift but it is very hard work. Know that what you are signing up for is not a fluffy job.
What is your wish for the art community of Memphis?
To thrive! We all benefit from a thriving, healthy, well-funded creative community. I hope through Mable we can show local artists how to further commercialize their art and to carry that forward to the rest of the world one day in the form of textile products, like wallpaper, fabrics, and art prints.
You get one last dance on the dancefloor at Earnestine & Hazel’s—what’s playing on the Jukebox?
Bill Withers “Use Me Up”! Easy one!
Success in the City: Leslie Murphy