Alan Gerencer is one of the minds behind the award-winning Expensify project and a Principal in our Portland office. Alan is an architect by education who found his way to interiors by following his passion for holistic design. We caught up with him to discuss his Michigan upbringing, the importance of iPhones, and why James Bond would be an ideal client.
When did you realize you wanted to work in architecture and interior design? I grew up in a rural Michigan farmhouse surrounded by maple forests and farmland. My parents had 10 kids and their priority was to raise us to be happy and healthy. Occupied with the day-to-day realities of life, my parents allowed us to follow our passions. But we didn’t have design magazines in the house or access to art in the traditional sense. Instead, I learned about design from movies and nature, finding beauty in simple, every-day things.
How does living in Portland inspire you? I think most people who live here are drawn to the natural beauty of the region. There is no beating Portland in terms of access to a healthy lifestyle, quality food, fresh air, and excellent design. It’s the people that make this a special place, though.
Coffee or tea? 100% both.
If you could design for a fictional character, who would it be? What would be more fun than designing for James Bond? He has exquisite taste, high standards, and limitless budget.
Favorite tool of the trade? My iPhone. Communication is key in our profession and a large part of my job these days is about relationship building. I want to be connected and stay in touch. I really don’t like to make people wait.
Favorite movie? On Golden Pond. It tells a beautiful story with Henry Fonda, Katherine Hepburn, and Jane Fonda about family, love, and commitment set against the idyllic backdrop of a summer cottage in New England.
What are your hobbies outside of the office? I enjoy quieter activities. You can usually find me working on my 1909 Craftsman home or enjoying time with my teenage daughter. I like to stay centered with yoga and be out in nature in any capacity.
What is the best advice you have ever received? I once got the advice that it’s important to keep your standards high and your expectations closer to reality. That stuck with me. I am an advocate for setting high standards. Even if our aspirations are sometimes impossible to make a reality, striving to meet them can make the world a better place.