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Barbie: The Unexpected Mentor

by Lisa Morrison

It might seem comical for a commercial interior designer in her early 40’s to say that Barbie changed her life, but for me, Barbie did. In the realm of interior design, Barbie emerged as an unexpected muse. From her iconic Dreamhouse to her charmingly decorated rooms, Barbie’s artistic journey in interior design ignited a passion within this little girl, inspiring me to explore the world of design and décor.

There’s a joyous luxury to Barbie’s world which is inspring to bring to life

A major part of the Barbie experience was the Dreamhouse. A new HGTV show where they recreate a Barbie-inspired California Dreamhouse proved to be the perfect marriage of my history with Barbie and my love for interior design. Sure, I had a few store-bought Dreamhouses as a child, but my favorite Barbie palaces were always the ones that I created. I designed and built dioramas made from empty printer paper boxes and shoe boxes stacked on top of each other. I made my own flooring, painted wall finishes, built furniture, and even fabricated lighting. Every corner of my Dreamhouse became an oasis of artistic expression, with each room reflecting a unique theme and personality.

Through playful experimentation, this little girl learned that interior design is not just about arranging furniture, but about telling a story. These were my first lessons in the art of balance, proportion, and spatial harmony—essential elements that breathe life into a space. Barbie’s journey reaffirms the notion that an interior designer is not merely a decorator, but an artist who crafts emotions and ambiance with the environment they create. I began to experiment with mood boards, color palettes, and design software, embracing technology as a powerful tool in my creative arsenal. Outside of residential design, I would master plan retail venues, community parks and pools, workspaces, schools, and even parking garages that housed the entire motorcade.

This palette sample shows the range of possibilities that pink can inspire – an open canvas for creativity!

While recently working on a second Medtail location for a client, I realized how polarizing the color pink was with design. It’s not for everyone, but for our client pink was the exact jumping off point needed for their brand and their new Medtail experience. We have lived through decades of neutrals and the same 48 shades of gray or tan; I hope that the current Barbie renaissance inspires the design community to lean into creating vibrant and colorful experiences. Barbie had no fear; every wall was brought to life by a color or a pattern. She knew no neutrals. Barbie invited little kids like myself to participate in the creative process, encouraging them to experiment with countless colors, patterns, and textures.

The open, glam, and stunningly pink sensibilities of Metro MedSpa pull inspiration from the classic Barbie Dreamhouse

The revival of the Barbie brand with the new movie taking the world by storm has reminded me of the influence she had on my life. The Barbie brand of the 90’s inspired me to pursue the career I have today. My hope is that the resurgence of Barbie inspires a new generation of kids to appreciate the beauty of Barbie’s world. Maybe she’ll even inspire a few young kids to become the interior designers of the next generation. Up until a few years ago, I still had all of my Barbies. I was lucky enough to be able to pass most of them down to some nieces and nephews. And yes – I did play with them all one last time!

Even something as seemingly simple as an exam room benefits from the lush, dreamlike qualities that Barbiecore embodies