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Meet Morph Studio, the Melbourne label creating custom unisex jewellery

PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANNIKA LEDET FOR MORPH STUDIO

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

“Sturdy structures and organic patterns.”

Raphy Weir, the founder of Melbourne-based jewellery label Morph Studio, has always been a creative person. But after years of pursuing music, woodworking, graphic design and painting, he’s finally found himself “in the right place” handcrafting bespoke, freeform jewellery.


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After countless hours of YouTube tutorials, creative experiments and skill building, Raphy was a talented self-taught jeweller. Months later, his label Morph Studio was born. Below, he reflects on the brand’s journey so far.

Tell us about you. What’s your creative background?

 

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The creative arts have been a passion of mine, ever since I started doing music at school. I’ve always needed some kind of creative outlet, whether that be painting, woodworking, producing, photography or graphic design. I moved from Sydney to Melbourne in January last year with the intention of starting a jewellery design course.

After many visits over the years, I was inspired to live in Melbourne. It’s a city that values and promotes young designers. I enrolled in a jewellery design course but due to COVID, that course was deferred. Keen to get started on developing my skills (and having plenty of time on my hands) I decided to start teaching myself jewellery making. I watched numerous online tutorials, starting with the basic designs. I spent hours each day building on my skills and experimenting with my own ideas and techniques.

How did the label get started? Talk us through the process and the challenges.

 

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I started the label not long after I first got into making jewellery, at which point I was just making pieces for friends. Once I felt like I was getting the hang of it and finding my own distinct style, I thought I’d try my hand at starting my own label. The first thing I did was design a logo. For me, that was a good way of making it feel like a ‘real project’, not just another idea.

I set up an Instagram and established a social media presence for the brand. I did all the business administration (ABN, business email, etc), and set up a database on my phone to help me manage my invoices and client information. To launch, I started by making a small collection of jewellery and organising a photo shoot with my good friend Annika, who helped me capture my pieces.

In terms of making the logo and creating the graphics, I was lucky enough to work with another friend, Claudia Lewis, who helped bring the vision to life. At that stage, my biggest challenge was allocating enough time to do all the administrative and promotional work while also making the jewellery itself. It took me a while to learn balance.

What were you trying to achieve from the project at the time? How has this evolved and what are you trying to communicate through the brand now?

 

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From the get-go, I actually had a strong feeling of [the brand’s] direction. I felt like I’d finally found my niche. The fundamental idea behind the brand hasn’t actually evolved too much since I started, but it’s certainly progressed a lot faster than I could have anticipated.

It really seems to have just taken on a life of its own. You’ll notice that a lot of my jewellery has a sort of chunky, textured style to it, which communicates my own tastes as well as the influences of the electronic music and dance scene, which I feel come through in my designs.

How would you describe Morph Studio to someone who’s never seen it before?

I’d describe Morph Studio as a small jewellery brand with a chunky, heavy style. My designs incorporate both sturdy structures and organic patterns. I make unique custom pieces for my customers while also maintaining my distinct style. I like to think that a lot of the shapes and faces in my jewellery have a natural feel about them, like textures you’d see in the environment… tree bark, for example.

What are you most proud of in your work on your label?

I’m probably most proud of seeing my brand and my own style of jewellery grow into something that the people around me and the local community seem to genuinely appreciate.

I’ve also been lucky enough to have my jewellery stocked at Sucker, and have received a really great response to the pieces I’ve out. To see this happen at a shop I really align with and have always admired is pretty surreal. I definitely take a lot of pride in that.

Who do you think is most exciting in the Australian creative scene right now?

 

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For someone who’s already established, I love what Niamh Galea’s doing with Ramp Tramp Tramp Stamp and am excited to see what’s to come with her brand and store in Sydney.

I also share a studio with my good friend Rebecca Willington, who’s the creator of Impermanence. It’s been so cool watching her brand grow and seeing the time and effort that’s put into making each individual bag. It really speaks to the consistency and quality of her products, and also the level of talent around at the moment.

What about the Australian fashion/jewellery industry needs to change?

This one’s a bit niche to the jewellery industry. I’ve shown my chains to some more established jewellers in the past and it’s been mentioned to me a few times that chain-making is becoming a bit of a lost art. It’s quite time-consuming and costly, so a lot of jewellers are choosing to buy cheaper pre-manufactured chains from suppliers, adding a pendant or charms and branding it as their own.

I guess this doesn’t really align with the philosophy of my brand because I can’t help but feel like it’s a bit of a shortcut. A lot of consumers don’t really understand [what’s going on behind the scenes] and probably think they’re paying for fully bespoke, handmade pieces. However, on the other hand, I totally understand how costly the chain-making process can be.

As small business owners, it can be really difficult [to make your time] worthwhile without taking measures like that. Either way, I think more production transparency could be a positive thing for the industry and might bring more light to chain-making and the skill involved in that process.

Who is in your wardrobe right now?

 

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I wear a lot of clothes by local designers like Die Horny, Ka-he, Posture Studio, Rat Life, Impermanence and Dwahkidia.

Where can we buy one of your pieces?

You can purchase my pieces in a couple of different ways. At the moment most of my chains and earrings are stocked at Sucker in Brunswick, and I also do commissions through my Instagram so you can just message me there. A proper website is also in the works. More recently I’ve also started repurposing old jewellery into new exciting pieces, which people have been approaching me about on Instagram as well.

Lots of jewellery seems to get thrown to the back of the drawer after it’s been worn for a while, so it’s a cool way of giving new life to old pieces, and a fun creative task for me. For example, one of my favourite jobs was turning an old Cuban link necklace into a Cuban link chain bracelet and two Cuban link chainrings.

Anything else to add?

 

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Over the past five years, it took a lot of trial and error in a number of different fields for me to figure out what I wanted to do. This is the first time I’ve really felt I was in the right place, doing the right thing. I’m just really excited and happy about my work at the moment and keen to keep growing the brand.

Browse the Morph Studio collection here.

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