ChadMichael Morrisette is a fabulous SoCal artist and designer made famous for designing some of the world’s most visual and controversial display windows. Morrisette grew up in a Mormon household in Alaska and left both the faith and the 49th state when he was 15 to start his design career in the Los Angeles area. His work has appeared in the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue, Madison, Robert Ellis, and Roseark. He owns a collection of some 450 mannequins he started collecting six years ago. “My first one was a Rootstein. It’s like a Ferrari or a Bentley; they set all the trends. Now I have a collection of all the current makers, and makers that are long-gone; things from the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s and ’80s that no longer exist.”
Our careers are a series of steps–many forward and some back. Did you have a ‘big break’ along the way? I did, many. And I think they will continue to happen for me. My first big break was at 16 years old when I was hired by Nordstrom. It was a very young age to be hired to the visual team. It was where I received a lot of my training in visual display. On the job training. About a year later I was recruited by Saks 5th Ave. also a big break for me. In 2005 meeting Michael Zadowicks was another huge step forward. He introduced me to the amazing world of mannequins and their incredible history. My first freelance client in West Hollywood was where I met Michael. That client opened many many doors for me. And I am very lucky that they were the beginning of where I am now. I firmly believe we create our own worlds and all my “breaks” come to me because I strive to be a good person and always do what’s right. So hopefully….they keep coming.
Walk us through an engagement. How much time do you have to brainstorm? Shop? Design? Install? Tweak? Ha! That really depends on each project. Two weeks is a good amount of time to produce an installation. But an installation can take anywhere from 1-3 days. While having 2-3 people working on them. They take a lot of time and focus. The brainstorming is the easy part. Inspiration comes from all over the place. But sourcing and making is where all the time is spent. Some concepts I have a solid idea of how it will go while others are sometimes very by the seat of my pants. Very creative and go with the flow. Each project and each client/brand is different. Thankfully. It keeps me on my toes.
SoCal is paradise and all, but what do you miss from your childhood in Alaska? Nothing really. I went home for the first time in 19 years last month. I’m very grateful I was raised in Alaska. But my life in West Hollywood is wonderful and gets better with each day. Alaska is a very extremely and harsh climate. I much prefer the Los Angeles sunshine and culture. It was incredible to see my childhood friends while I was there though…I do miss them.