Design Diary: Red House Design
Red House home and office. Photo: Stephen J. Donaldson
Michael Alper and Bruce Moore. Photo: Sherry Jo Williams
Screened porch. Photo: Aaron Thompson
The Lake House project. Photo: Stephen J. Donaldson.
For this month’s insider profile we journey east to the Berkshires, to venture behind the scenes at Red House Design in Great Barrington. Red House offers its clients a unique opportunity to shop from a full spectrum of design services, which includes conceptualization and planning, as well as architecture and interiors. I came calling on a crisp fall day to chat with the two designers about doing corporate time and the myriad rewards of self-employment.
Bringing equal amounts of experience and talent to the team, architect Bruce Moore and interior designer Michael Alper are partners in life as well as in design. Professional design collaborators since 2000, a couple for over 25, and spouses for the last 6, they share equally impressive corporate careers. Moore’s pedigree covers architecture and interiors for mega design firms Skidmore Owings & Merrill and Gensler, while Alper’s professional credentials include creative direction and interior design for blockbuster brands Bloomingdale’s, The Estee Lauder Companies and Macy’s. Together, they are a dynamic duo.
Moore was born in Thailand to American parents, and growing up he lived in exotic locales from Pakistan to Switzerland. After early studies in mathematics and music, he finally found his metier in architecture. Technology has dominated the field of architecture for years, but he still prefers to draw floor plans by hand for Red House clients, providing a rare treat for their 21st-century clientele.
“We enjoy developing relationships with clients who are within a 45-minute radius,” he said. He is a registered architect in Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut, so Great Barrington is an ideal location. His talent is evident in his and Alper’s own home renovation, once a mediocre mid-century ranch, now transformed into a stunning contemporary home, replete with soaring ceilings and a majestic back porch.
Alper was born in Brooklyn, raised in Long Island, and attended university in California. Over the course of 25 years, he built a successful design career in Manhattan as a leader in the world of retail visual merchandising, packaging, advertising and store design.
I was curious to know how this highly trained queer eye might apply his taste to the couple’s own decor. Among the design details in their private residence, including an abstract painting by James Kennedy and a custom sliding door crafted with hand-forged metal, are hundreds of unusual ceramics.
“I have a serious ‘addiction’ to vintage vases and rare flatware,” admitted Alper. His obsession is delightfully obvious in their extensive collection of stored collectibles, as well as by the dozens of perfect vignettes placed strategically throughout their home. (This passion is documented by several meticulous tattoos gracing his arms, of the ubiquitous fork, knife and spoon.)
The standard approach to visual presentation and architecture changed from analog to digital years ago, leaving the two yearning for a return to a more authentic version of themselves and a more satisfying way of life. Initially they relocated from NYC to Hancock, New York, and then made their way to Great Barrington seven years ago. It was there they founded Red House. Citing a growing desire for real relationships with clients, shaped by sustainability and the handiwork of local craftspeople, they settled in for the long haul. The couple from Red House is living the dream.
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