Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An interior designer by defense, interview with Bobby McAlpine

I had to good fortune to visit a Bobby McAlpine house (McAlpine Tankersley Architecture) at the Beacham & Company, Realtors party last week night. I wrote a post about it " After Bobby's Big, Big Door and More at the Beacham Party"

That wasn't enough so I re-listened to the Bobby McAlpine interview by the Skirted Roundtable from August 2010. The Home Within Us was just out. Mr. Alpine and the Joni, Linda, and Megan totally rocked!!! You should listen.

Here are some quotes to whet your appetite.

(Do new clients have want a house like you've already done or do they want something new)
They sense something, I think, from me I hope...that I might be the soothsayer for them...I would hope always that no one would want me to repeat a thing...I'm much more interested in listening and reading people."

(I like your interiors do you consider yourself an interior designer or architect?)
"I'd prefer to be known as an architect...I am an interior designer by defense because my interiors just get wasted. If you want be recognized as an architect you have to have good interiors...because up until now it's the only mechanism (interiors) for publication and furthering you...you can't afford misses and losses. So I took it by the horns."

(buying and building own houses in Nashville)
"I'm a mover...I bought a modern house to live in in the interim...it's kind of fabulous. The architecture is like nothing I'd have anything to do with but to be in it is incredible."

24:00 (when design looses it way)
"Everything that becomes mature and becomes heritable is subtle ... it takes a real strong and smart appetite to try to develop what's going to last."

25:54 (what is "American" style)
"American is a dream sewn up in cotton, it's not silk or wool or stone or anything else. It's sewn in a common material that is provincial and it's lovely because it's so pure of heart. Maybe a little lacking of resource, maybe a little lacking of background, or credential, or bloodline or whatever. But there is something lovely about it ... it's loveliest architecture shows up through the naivety of it's natives."

33:35 (speaking about expensive steel windows)
"It's ironic ... humble is always the most expensive thing you can do."

40:50 (Choose great space or great decor/furnishings?)
"As an architect I would chose the space first ... really really right ... gorgeous ... poetry ... something heart-full (heartfelt?) to it ..."

"If I can't(get the right space) ... I would certainly decorate the #@!!% out of something that wasn't right..."

42:54 (do you have a favorite room?)
"No ... I love sequence; I love for things to unfold..."

43:00 (what is really, deeply important to me)
"The minute you crack open the container (meaning the house) I want you to be destroyed ... disheveled by the level of intimacy, what's being offered you has got to bring you to your knees. It's not to impress you; it is to tell you how badly wanted you are and how long we've been waiting for you."

47:40 (after visiting the Lutyens house on which he modeled a home, the one of the book cover)
"Lutyens ... mine is so much better."

In the big room.



  1. Excellent breakdown of the podcast. I listened to it awhile back and was enthralled.

    I like the interior design by defense point. When your architecture is that good, it needs to be a "lion among lions." I have the same sentiment when it comes to landscape architecture and having it "live up to the house."

    I had the fortune of meeting Ruard Veltman (a McAlpine alum) in Charlotte last weekend and will have to fill you in. They're a brilliant bunch indeed and he seemed to be headed in a similar direction by having interior design as part of his repertoire of services.

  2. There is certainly an "Auburn school." This morning I cruised the Mockbee on Amsterdam: http://www.metropolismag.com/story/20080220/bringing-mockbee-home


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