Good Design with Contemporary Flair

An interview with Susan Alisberg & Ed Parker of Alisberg Parker Architecture and Interior Design

Photographs by ChiChi Ubiña

Where did the two of you meet? How did you decide to go into business together?

We met when Susan had her own firm and Ed responded to an ad for an architect. We worked together for 3 years before becoming partners in 2001. It was apparent from the start that our skills (and personalities) complemented each other perfectly.

How do you divide projects and responsibilities?

We share an office and consult each other all day long no matter who spearheads a project. We both work on the plan layouts; Ed usually takes the lead on the exterior facades and Susan takes the lead on the interiors. Once out of the design phase, Ed will continue with the construction documents while Susan concentrates of the selection and organization of finishes.

What are the challenges of working in Fairfield and Westchester Counties?

9This is an expensive part of the country for construction. It is a challenge to have clients appreciate the cost of building here. This is also a highly regulated area for construction. In some municipalities it can take months to obtain the proper approvals and permits.

On the other hand, what are the benefits?

Clients are sophisticated, educated, and understand and desire good design. Our clients have cultivated a vision and it is exciting to work with them.

What are the realities of high-end architecture versus the perceptions you held when you first started out?

We both had extensive experience in high-end residential architecture so our perceptions matched the realities from the start.

What is your secret to your contemporary flair in a traditional structure?

Good Design transcends style. Most of our clients want houses that sit comfortably in the neighborhood, but have a casual and cleaner interior. The interior details still must respect the exterior language of the residence. We find the contemporary flair comes as we simplify the details on the interior. Modern clean lines and contemporary lighting make a big difference.

How do you integrate current trends into traditional projects?

There are several trends for building houses today that include design aesthetics, use, and construction materials. The reemergence of modern design has created simpler traditional homes. Casual living leads us to create more open flow between rooms. Energy efficient houses use spray foam insulation and geothermal heating. More socially conscious materials are available and employed. This includes responsibly harvested lumber and formaldehyde-free materials. Technology is no longer hidden, but celebrated as flat panel TVs are mounted above the fireplace and iPads are mounted in convenient locations for easy control.

What are some trends in architecture, design, color, and texture?

Clean and fresh are the words that resonate. Our architectural clients are looking for open, light interiors with less embellishment. Very few clients are looking for ornament. Our interiors use minimal, cleaner patterns. Rich materials are employed; color and texture are key.

What sets your “Millennial” clients apart from their parents’ generation in the homes they are buying and living in?

Millennials are less formal than their parents. Our younger clients want more relaxed open plans and more contemporary interiors. Technology is embraced and not concealed. The interiors are clean and clutter is hidden. The family room or great room has replaced the living room as the celebrated space. Every house has a playroom or play space for the children. As greener building has become more accessible, our younger clients are interested in more energy efficient homes.