Standing the Test of Time: Christopher Architecture and Interiors


Digital Exclusive


Words by Charlotte Brakmann

Illustrations provided by Christopher Architecture and Interiors

Sketches harken back to a simpler time, but they are not outdated. Just as a custom built home will stand the test of time and changing trends- the art of sketching has withstood these same forces.

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“Like breathing is to life, I’m not sure I could live as a designer without the tool of sketching,” Founder and President of Christopher Architecture and Interiors Chris Reebals explained.

Sketching is just one tool that Christopher A&I uses to convey their mission of excellent and stimulating designs, but it is arguably the most crucial. A hand-sketched design communicates the spirit of something in a way that digital tools aren’t capable of. You lose the spirit of your project when it starts to look mechanical.

“A computer animation, while beautiful and realistic, often lacks the warmth and character of a sketch. It is difficult to think, when behind a computer with the same fluidity that comes through the medium of sketching,” Chris explained.

Sketching took on a completely different form and function for Jared Fulton, Vice President of Commercial Architecture at Christopher A&I when he embarked on a six-month journey through the Appalachian Mountains 10 years ago.

Jared spent his free time on the trails sketching everything from abstract concepts to everyday scenes right before him. This daily practice caused pause to other hikers along the trails and created his affectionately given trail name “Sketch” by the other hikers. As the trails meandered on, the nickname stuck, as did his love for the art of sketching.

Out of all of Jared’s sketches that he has dating back to his first week of undergrad at Auburn University, there is one that is his favorite. It was the night that he camped with strangers, and listened to their stories in Cherry Gap Shelter in Tennessee. These tales inspired more conversations and ultimately led to Jared meeting his future wife.

Looking back, he can recognize the first sketch that he ever drew of his wife. Before he knew her real name and they just knew each other as their trail names: Sketch and Gazelle.

Just as Jared’s trail books and name hold a special meaning for a monumental season of his life, the sketches that Christopher A&I creates have the same enduring impact with their clients today.

Christopher A&I homes are imagined with originality, built with care and aged with elegance. This evolution of creation to completion is captured in the form of a sketch. Like a film photograph, it exudes grit and authenticity that evokes something lasting and real rather than filtered or computer generated.

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“When I draw, my hand and brain seem to interact in a special way that doesn’t happen on a screen,” Chris explained.

Sketching takes a listening ear, gifted imagination, and artistic skill. Without one, the sketch may stay on paper, but with these three things, the rendering comes alive and into fruition where families live, work and play.

“When they swoon, I melt.  I’m honored to do what I do. The poetic and romantic nature of sketching seems to resonate more deeply with our clients,” Chris explained.

A thoughtful foundation sketched at Christopher A&I is one that listens to your “what-ifs” and “could we’s” while inspiring out of the box ideas and methods. Sketching provokes a thoughtful platform to see your space come alive in the first stages and carry it with you until you are hanging it on the wall of your carefully curated and styled bookshelf.

Sketching is woven into the fabric of Christopher A&I because, without this common thread, Chris and Jared wouldn’t be architects. It is a gift that goes beyond their drawings and inspires clients and communities through their elegant and cutting edge designs.