Our Studio’s Conversation With Bobby McAlpine

Some of our design team’s highlights

30 April 2020 -

Earlier this week, our design team had the opportunity to speak with one of the architects and designers we look to for inspiration, Bobby McAlpine. 

Founder of the design and architecture firm, McAlpine, and the author of three books, Bobby has a unique way of approaching design through poetic expressions of history, intimacy, and form. 

The design team was kind enough to let me, a writer here at Studio McGee, in on their virtual meeting with him, and I will never forget it. 

Here are some of our team’s favorite sentiments:

“Listening to Bobby McAlpine speak was entrancing and engaging. He speaks with such passion for what he does, and it is truly inspiring. One thing he said that I loved was, “Things work better when complimenting their contradictions.” I love this idea of mixing furniture pieces or materials that would typically be contradictory but making them complement each other in a way that is beautiful and unique. This is something Bobby does in a lot of his work and something I have always admired about him.” – Erin Walker

“I love how Bobby isn’t interested in perfection, he’s interested in honesty. My favorite part was when he said he’s always looking for the gap-tooth or lazy eye in every project because that appeals to him much more than perfection does. I think it’s so important as designers to reveal a design rather than force it into being. And allowing imperfection helps you to do that.” – Renee Bush

“He mentioned approaching the people you work with with great empathy. Meaning the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. I think his design approach is so personable, and by being empathetic, he’s been able to connect with his clients at a deeper level and understand their way of living and making their home more intentional.” – Pam Miyamoto

“He has a way with words that no one else could do justice in speaking on his behalf. The intentionality in his words matches the intentionality that goes into his designs. When he shared about James’s Well, the memorial for the family of a fallen missionary, he shared such intimate details that would go amiss without his explanation. The door into the well is 27” wide, to reflect James’s 27 years. The wood of the door came from Africa, where he did his mission work. The room is meant for one person as a connection to the earth, heavens, and those around you. We see the beautiful final product and admire the thoughtful design, but the depth of the thoughtfulness is so much greater. – Ali Ames

“There were so many things I loved about our conversation, but one of my favorite parts was when he said: “Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to look for it.” That was incredibly inspiring to me.” – Shea McGee

“One of my favorite things he said was in his response to our question about creating timeless interiors, he said: “Evaluate the pieces that have had the versatility to ride through the ages. Establish an emotional continuity to your work that is evident no matter the style of the home.” I also thought it was fascinating that he said he sometimes composes the interior and then establishes the site around it. This idea of working with architects to create a fluid and insightful collaboration from the beginning is incredibly valuable.” – Alana Mackey

“Bobby is so intentional with every aspect of his design. He understands what it takes to create timeless design. Being an architect for 35 years he is truly an expert at what he does but also has such a humble persona about him. One thing that really stood out to me is when he said “Windows are the eyes of the home and cannot be discounted” – “They should be the one thing in the budget that should not be compromised.” As designers it is our goal to educate our clients and help to prioritize where is best to allocate for the budget for intentional and timeless design. Our goal is for our clients to select materials that will stand the test of time.” – McKenna Bell

“Listening to Bobby speak yesterday was food for a designer’s soul. The amount of passion and love he pours into his designs exudes off of him when he speaks. The way he talked about his process was in such a romantic and mesmerizing way that it lit a spark in my own heart I haven’t ever felt before. My favorite part was the way he begins his design process. He approaches his clients with great empathy, which is key to any great design. For some, I feel this gets lost in the process when a project becomes a job. I think this flows beautifully into his sentiment on “Creating architecture that really is intelligent to an intimate intention.” This spoke to me on many levels as to what we as designers strive to create for our clients. We strive to create an intimate experience within your own home to grow, entertain your friends and family with joy and love, and overall create a space that will transcend through time.” Kaitlin O’Connell

Date Posted
30 April 2020