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We help people take on the most rewarding projects of their lives.

We are Alder James—an architecture and design firm founded by husband and wife, Matthew James Gummow and Emily Alder Rolfing in Laguna Beach, California. We believe that great design requires the full participation of the user. We seek to immerse our clients in the process so they have confidence in the design before a shovel ever hits the ground.

MATTHEW JAMES GUMMOW, AIA, Principal Architect

Matthew Gummow, AIA co-founded Alder James with wife Emily Rolfing after working in the design industry for nearly a decade with owners of projects both large and small.  Matthew believes strongly that Architecture artfully connected with the landsdcape has the ability to elevate human experience through the senses.  Licensed to practice Architecture in California, he has developed a reputation for delivering projects that exceed Owner expectations in quality and performance. Matthew has a strong grasp of the entire design and construction process and prides being directly accessible to the firm's clients throughout the life of the project. 


EMILY ALDER ROLFING, Principal Designer

Laguna Beach native, Emily Rolfing is co-founder of Alder James with husband Matthew Gummow.  Emily runs the interior design operations with inspired insight for materials, color pallettes, furnishings and decor.  Above all else, her love of authenticity and natural beauty provides the basis for her design work.  Her attention to detail is rooted in a lifelong belief that true beauty is found in small and humble places.  Emily offers a deeper view of her family-centered creativity through her popular lifestyle and design blog EMILY ALDER.

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Alder James begins by setting out to establish a deep connection between a project and its place, nurturing inspired human experience through the essential link between people and their environment. A place is specific and meaningful, affected by ecology, history, and custom. We aim to reconnect people with place through functional forms that blur the lines between indoor and outdoor environments. 


The fundamental qualities of our material world are the basis of our humanity. Material characteristics—texture, color, temperature—are evocative of human emotions and have the power to transform how we feel about a space. Furthermore, human health and longevity depends on the quality of the materials with which we surround ourselves. With this in mind, we design with materials that embody the beautiful aesthetic of Nature's resources and support healthy environments.


The practice of Architectural design and construction has seen exponential advances in digital technologies in recent years. With building information modeling, energy modeling, photorealistic and real-time rendering, virtual and augmented reality, and integrated project delivery methods designers, engineers, and builders are able to work more collaboratively. Firms using these technologies have fostered a new era in which all project stakeholders are able to envision a clear path to success in the early stages in the process. Alder James is leading the charge, utilizing the newest tools available to ensure that the owner is best served with more effective and coordinated drawings and specifications ultimately resulting in better buildings that perform as intended.


Located in

Laguna Beach, CA