Emily Fisher Paprocki is half of the married duo that is Rock Paper Hammer, a full-service architecture and construction company in Louisville. While you may not have heard the name, you have quietly and maybe unknowingly been admiring their work around Louisville for years. They work out of their Crescent Hill home, which includes their beautiful studio located in the back of their property. It is from within these walls that they have produced designs that have won multiple Best of Houzz awards for design and service. Who would imagine that all this land-based living and sustainable design comes from a woman who lived on houseboats in the San Francisco Bay Area before settling in Louisville? Her practicality, intelligence and modern design make us look forward to seeing much more of her work in the future. Meet Emily Fisher Paprocki, our newest FACE of Louisville.
What sparked your interest in architecture?
I grew up in an unconventional house that was designed by my father, who was not an architect by formal training but had an interest, and that is likely what sparked mine. When I was about 10 years old, I got a hold of some floor plan books and started editing them with a red pen to make improvements, and then drawing my own. That led to drafting classes in junior high and high school — I was very driven to become an architect from a young age.
You own Rock Paper Hammer with your husband. Tell us a little bit about what your company does.
Rock Paper Hammer is a creative team of designers and craftsmen that provides architecture and construction services. We specialize in custom projects, often residential or small commercial, and do a lot of work on existing and historic structures. We emphasize quality over quantity in both the number of projects we do and the size of those projects; we have been careful not to grow too large, despite plenty of work, so we can give proper attention to each project.
What is your signature project, the one you are most proud of, and why?
There is really not one that stands above the others. In every project, I am designing to such a unique set of criteria, so it is virtually impossible to compare one to the other. I am proud of all of them in different ways.
How would you describe your aesthetic or your style?
Much of my design is driven by the style of the existing structure that I’m working with, but I tend to favor clean lines and simple geometry. I usually lean modern and don’t use a lot of ornamentation, but like to give warmth with the use of natural materials. My primary objective is the function and quality of the space: flow, sunlight, view … these are the things that will make someone want to be in a space whether or not they realize what’s pulling them to it.
What are your favorite types of projects? Least favorite?
My favorite types of projects are those where my client is doing the project for their own needs and enjoyment and recognizes the value of living in a home that is enjoyable to be in. My least favorite are the ones that are on too tight of a time schedule.
You work with your husband, a fellow architect who is now a builder. What is your advice for working with your spouse, or family, for that matter?
It certainly helps that we met in architecture school and have had that shared interest for our entire relationship. And honestly, running the business together is not necessarily any more challenging than parenting or other aspects of household partnership. As with any partnership, just make sure before entering that you share common ideals and can balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
What is next on the horizon for you?
I am trying to create more opportunities to travel, especially with my kids before they no longer want to be seen with their parents.
If you were not in your current job, what would you secretly love to do?
It’s no secret that I love my current job, so it’s not easy to come up with an alternative! But as a different twist, I think it would be interesting to write or blog about what I do, and try to provide design advice that is accessible to all and not just those who can afford to hire an architect.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Most people in Louisville are surprised to learn that for a few years I lived on boats on the San Francisco Bay — first a 44-foot-long wooden trawler and then a 31-foot-long cruising sailboat.
What are three words that describe you?
Practical, effective, innovative
What advice do you treasure?
That it’s better to be kind than to be right. Though I don’t remember it as often as I should.
Fill in the blank. You’ll never see me without my ________.
Where can we find you hanging out around town?
We have made our home a pretty great place to be, and I usually prefer to be there, often around a fire in the backyard with friends, instead of going out. I spend enough time driving my kids all over town.
Favorite thing to do in Louisville?
I like to walk or run in one of the many parks or interesting neighborhoods.
Tell us some of your favorite local restaurants.
What’s on your personal reading list right now?
I’m currently reading Day After Night by Anita Diamant. Next up is Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy and We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas. I love being the steward of our neighborhood Little Free Library, and that is where most of my reading material comes from, so it’s pretty random.
What are three of your favorite things right now aside from faith, family and friends?
Right now I’m into schoolhouse light fixtures, whole grain Dijon mustard and my heated car seat.
Thank you, Emily! To learn more about Emily’s work with Rock Paper Hammer, call (502) 235-8086 or visit rockpaperhammer.com.
And thank you Adele Reding Photography for the beautiful images of Emily.
To be inspired by other great women in Louisville, check out our other FACES of Louisville here.