Chris Murphy is a Tulsa-based interior designer whose colorful and eccentric designs push the boundaries.
Murphy has worked professionally as an interior designer since the early 90’s and is the owner of Christopher Murphy Designs, 2626 E. 21st St.
Murphy owns his unique identity and style to bring his clients – located across the country – something they have never seen before.
“I understand that I’m not for everyone — I’m not for the masses — I’m for a very select few, and that’s fine with me,” Murphy said. “I love what I do, and what I try to instill in my clients is that the process isn’t always going to be easy, but ultimately we’re going to have fun, and they’re going to have something that nobody else has.”
Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, Murphy said his parents instilled in him an appreciation for art and different cultures during his early years.
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“Lincoln was a great place to grow up, but I had wonderful parents who exposed me to the world and the arts — museums, Broadway, the travel experience — from a young age,” Murphy said. “It opened my eyes to more than just Nebraska, which I’m grateful for.”
Even as a child, Murphy said he had an eye for design and aesthetics – an early predictor of his future career path.
“I was always creating and I was always drawn to things of beauty, of interest, of color,” Murphy said. “Since my first sets of blocks and Legos, I’ve always loved building things, but I’ve also loved tearing down what I’ve created and seeing how I can build it better.”
Murphy’s parents recognized his aptitude for clever designs and allowed him to experiment and practice at home, he said.
“When I was 12, I started decorating for my parents and their house. My mom was like, “Oh, we need a new sofa” and I was like, “No, not that one!” ‘” Murphy said. . “I had to do wonderful things with my mom at home, and my dad would take me outside and teach me how to build and fix things. I got the best of both worlds and was able to play with my masculine and feminine side.
Murphy followed his love for building and creating to Arizona State University, where he studied architecture. Still, Murphy said he felt like something wasn’t clicking.
“I always wanted to be an architect, but coming home and interning at an architecture firm over the summer showed me that wasn’t the creative ‘wow’ I wanted,” said Murphy. “It wasn’t glamorous, and it wasn’t really the world I wanted to be a part of. So, in school, I started focusing on the history and geography of architecture and graduated with a liberal arts degree.
After graduating, Murphy moved to Los Angeles. He realized that before he could fully pursue the path he was drawn to – interior design – he had to achieve another dream: to be completely open and transparent with his parents about his sexual identity.
“With the internet age, everything was getting smaller in the sense that our world was becoming more connected,” Murphy said. “My parents were living in Philadelphia at the time, and an older gay friend asked me, ‘Do your parents know you’re gay?’ I said, ‘No, but they’re on the east coast and I’m here.’ And he said, ‘Yes, but our world is smaller now – wouldn’t you hate it if someone else told them?’ »
With that, Murphy booked a flight home next weekend.
“My parents and I were literally sitting over breakfast and I was like, ‘Can you pass the toast? Oh, by the way, I’m gay,'” Murphy said.
While Murphy’s parents had questions, he said they were ultimately supporting him and encouraging him to live authentically.
“It was liberating,” Murphy said. “I always felt like I was hiding something, and there were so many things growing up that I couldn’t tell them about my friends or the people I was dating or the things I was doing. time it was out in the open, we became so much closer because I could share my world with them.
With the weight off his shoulders, Murphy attended graduate school at UCLA, where he earned a degree in interior design. Soon after, he returned to Nebraska and began designing and building a dream home for his parents, launching his career as an interior designer while thanking his mother and father for their enduring encouragement.
After working in Nebraska for several years, Murphy decided he was ready for a change. A close friend from UCLA lived in Tulsa, and after visiting him, Murphy said he felt drawn to the creative opportunities the city offered him as a designer.
“Although I love Nebraska, it was a very traditional clientele,” Murphy said. “Nebraska is very ‘new money,’ so they wanted traditional homes that felt more like ‘old money.’ With the oil and gas industry in Tulsa, the people here were “old money” but they didn’t want what their parents and grandparents had. They wanted something more contemporary, which is truly my love. Moving to Tulsa was the best decision.
Shortly after moving to Tulsa, Murphy met her husband. He said they loved seeing Tulsa grow as a city and as a creative community and plan to stay here for the foreseeable future.
“I’ve seen Tulsa grow and change so much since I’ve been here,” Murphy said. “George Kaiser and other foundations have done so much to make Tulsa a desirable community that embraces different cultures and races. It’s amazing to see the change in attitude here and the changes in physical spaces, with places like the Gathering Place and Guthrie Green We love Tulsa and are the cheerleaders for it, so we’re here for the long haul, that’s for sure.
Murphy’s work as a designer has taken him all over the world, which continually informs and inspires every project he takes on, he said.
“My style is made up of things I’ve pulled from my inspirational brain – things I’ve collected from travel, fashion, nature – and the common thread running through all of these is color” , Murphy said. “I’m not afraid of an exuberance of color. It’s really a mix of things that people might say, “It doesn’t go together; you can’t do that,” and I’m like, “Look at me!” I’m not a follower of rules, I’m a risk taker and I push my clients out of their comfort zone.
Whether he’s working on a family home, a ski house, a restaurant or even a boutique hotel, Murphy said he strives to inspire his clients and their families by being himself with a sense of pride. .
“It’s really about educating my clients that it’s okay to be who you are and let their kids know I have a husband and it’s okay,” Murphy said.
For Murphy, Pride Month commemorates the progress made by the LGBTQ+ community, while looking to the future.
“It’s a celebration of the people who fought so hard for our rights, like the opportunity to get married, that I never thought I would have,” Murphy said. “It’s a celebration of those we’ve lost to AIDS, discrimination and beatings. It’s a celebration of what we have now, and a time to look forward to what things can be.
To see more of Murphy’s projects or to contact, see murphydesigns.com.