REDD HOUSE

Written by Amelia Jeffers

Photography by James Henthorn and daniel.feldkamp16@gmail.com

It was February of 2020 when I met Michael Redd for the first time. I can’t recall who had suggested I profile him in Sophisticated Living Columbus, but his name had come up several times over the years. As a home-grown, world-class athlete and successful businessman, Michael definitely fit the criteria we seek for a feature story - and then some: former NBA All-Star, Olympic Gold Medalist, and visionary venture capitalist. If those attributes weren’t amazing enough, Michael represented an opportunity to inject diversity into our line-up, which is a priority to which we are absolutely committed.


Redd House pool fit for an Olympic Gold Medalist

Though Michael had agreed to be highlighted in our “10 Things I Cannot Live Without” feature, after a 45 minute interview at Starbucks that cold winter morning, two things became clear: (1) it would be impossible to capture Michael’s wisdom, luminescence, and relevance in our community and beyond in a 200 word bio and (2) I had to meet his wife, Achea.


Achea and Michael graciously agreed to switch the focus of the article to them, their family and residence in New Albany. A date for me to visit was set, and I headed out on a brisk fall afternoon. My gps guided me to my old neighborhood in the New Albany Country Club community, where I was surprised to find an inconspicuous marker between two familiar homes on a street I had run through hundreds of times over the years.


The long drive progresses past the signature brick walls and white fences of the distinctive community to a dense forest that opens to reveal a breathtaking, modernist structure designed by renowned Columbus architect George Acock in the manner of Frank Lloyd Wright. Sheathed in stone, stucco, and glass, the massive home is impressive without overwhelming the natural landscape. Sitting on more than 8 secluded acres, the entire site is peaceful and welcoming - a hint of the warmth and graciousness of the interior and its inhabitants.


Michael Redd and family inside their house

Approaching the front door, I am struck by the expert continuation of the hallmark Japanese aesthetic so true to the FLW style which was marked by a philosophy of “organic wholeness,” emphasizing the interdependence between individual elements - particularly form, function, and nature. While the timeless design and luxurious details of the home could easily be “the story,” the Redds are the definite stars of the show (and visit).


Settling into the cozy family room, Achea and I get to know one another while we wait for Michael to join. Both members of this powerhouse couple are adept at the art of comfortable and meaningful conversation. We settle quickly into an open and refreshingly honest dialog about our families, faith, life experiences, and current events. Achea has a lot to say - a fact that is evidenced by the November 2020 release of her second book in as many years, a robust online presence, and a bevy of speaking engagements around the country. Unapologetically embracing such socially taboo topics as race, sex, gender, mental health, and religion, she is direct, vulnerable, and impassioned. “I am a homebody by nature, but the beginning of Covid {and the isolation} was hard,” Achea admits. “ And when I looked at myself in the mirror after George Floyd, I knew I had to get spiritually and mentally equipped to face the reality of where we are.”


For this deep-thinking, justice-driven advocate, that meant first retreating to meditation and prayer, and then admitting what she can and can’t control. “I can only be responsible for Achea,” she explains. “I can’t control the cops, our government, our education system. I need to take care of myself. I can use my platform to be able to influence change right where I am at. Then it will spread. This empowers me, and I want to share it to empower others.”


When Michael joins us, he reinforces Achea’s sentiment that 2020 was a paradoxical kind of year: bleak circumstances all around, but also plenty of opportunity. Michael’s optimistic, confident, and informed perspective brings hope to the complex discourse around equity and diversity, and has set him apart as a consultant to a number of companies on issues related to social unrest. “The economic gap has to close in our country,” Michael says. “Positions of influence and authority have to be more diverse. We need to see not only inclusion but equity; and, we have to see the exchange of power as practical. ”


We discuss the dichotomies faced by an affluent, Black family in a mostly white community. “We have to redefine privilege,” says Achea. “We have more financially, but it plays a mind game with you. At the end of the day, in America we are still Black first. Those other identities are only in context. When Michael is on the court, he’s an athlete. When he is on the street, he’s another Black man, and anything can happen.”


For the Redds, showing up authentically and having a balanced view is key. “It’s not loving to accept hate,” says Michael. As Achea explains, “I want to see the humanization of us as Black people.”


As we wrap up our time together, I am struck by the similarities between the inspired architecture of the Redd’s residence and their life together, both reflecting the harmony of culture, sophistication, and spirituality; in touch with their internal and external forces; emanating wisdom, power, and influence.


To quote Michael's 2020 commencement speech to The Ohio State University, “But I wanted to be a witness to you that nothing is impossible. You are born for this time. I want to say that again. You are born for such a time as this, in the middle of our world being in flux, social unrest, a pandemic, chaos all around us. It really is a new reality among us. But I want to challenge you and encourage you in the midst of this new reality, there is new opportunity. Never forget that the world inside of you can impact the world around you.”



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Byers Imports
Byers Imports

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Byers Imports
Byers Imports

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Motor Enclave

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Cooley Custom Cabinetry

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OSU The James Cancer Hospital

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Cooley Custom Cabinetry

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