The at home study that architect Glenn Rappaport, Principal of Black Shack Architects, designed for his wife Kelly, a graphic designer, perfectly illustrates author E.F. Schumacher’s concept of “Small is Beautiful.” The room is perched on the south-west corner of the house he designed in the early 1990’s in the old railroad town of Basalt, Colorado. The room measures only 7’ x 7’, making it smaller than most cubicles seen throughout the corporate work place. Sitting in the room, it feels more like the cockpit of an airplane. Everything in the space is in easy reach and there are windows on three sides. The space features a three-sided wrap around work surface, below which are located the printers and office supplies. It's a reminder that good design must consider ergonomics; making things larger can actually make a room less convenient. While the study has no door, it has a screen of bookshelves in its place to maintain privacy and create some order to the inevitable messiness that comes with doing creative work. A small heater keeps the room warm and toasty on a winter’s morning without having to heat the entire house before the rest of the family wakes up.
The room looks directly towards Mount Sopris, a beautiful 12,965-foot snow-capped mountain in the area. During a visit this past March, I was fortunate enough to experience the magnificent views from this space in the dawn light. Everything about this view and the ambiance of the office suits Kelly perfectly. Her daily routine places her in her study at 4:00 am, getting in focused design time for her eponymous graphic design firm, Kelly Alford Design. The sunrise on Mount Sopris is her signal that her friends are waiting to accompany her on their daily hike on one of many local mountain trails.
Text by Colin Flavin, AIA