Minimalist design maximizes the mountain aesthetic in Aspen’s Starwood community.
The minimalist design concept starts with the home’s exterior: Architect Al Beyer’s design features clean horizontal planes, flat roofs and sweeping horizontal eaves.
Embracing the opportunity to design and build a family home on 38 acres in Aspen’s exclusive Starwood neighborhood, a savvy international couple took a decidedly refreshing approach. “It wasn’t like we said, ‘Let’s build our dream home, a chateau or something,’” recalls the wife. “We didn’t have anything in particular in mind. We looked at the views, the mountains and said, ‘What would work best here?’ The concept was informed by the land.”
What they did have was a passion for design garnered from their mutual backgrounds (the wife grew up in Switzerland, the husband in Milan), years of global travel and the benefit of experience gathered from building houses in Florida, where they’d most recently lived. The introduction by a mutual friend to Aspen architect Al Beyer (albeyerdesign.com), whose work they, coincidentally, had seen and admired in this magazine, was serendipitous.
“We had a similar aesthetic, an appreciation of minimal design,” the wife notes about Beyer. “Plus, we loved that he was a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy and that he took so much pride in his work. We knew that he was someone we could collaborate with and who would allow us to have the kind of hands-on experience we were looking for.”
“[THE OWNERS] BROUGHT A LOT OF THEIR OWN OPINIONS AND WERE IN TOUCH WITH WHAT MADE SENSE TO THEM. THEY WANTED TO BE INVOLVED.” –AL BEYER, ARCHITECT
The master bedroom with a sculptural Up 5o chair from B&B Italia.
“Right off the bat, we knew that we could work together in the creation of the spaces,” says Beyer. “[The owners] brought a lot of their own opinions and were in touch with what made sense to them. They wanted to be involved.” Even greater engagement came when the couple decided they, along with their four high school- and college-age children, would live in the home full-time. “Knowing that made a big difference in the soul of the place,” says Beyer. “It was a transitional moment.”
Fundamental to the home was the minimalist design concept inspired largely by the earlier contributions of a group of Bauhaus pioneers (Herbert Bayer and Fritz Benedict, for example), who had helped establish Aspen’s architectural landscape. Outside, the two-level home’s clean horizontal planes, flat roofs and sweeping horizontal eaves offer shelter from the sun and settle the structure on the stepped-up hillside behind it. Materials, primarily imported Japanese cedar siding and anodized aluminum that frames expansive windows, were deliberately understated.
Defined by the clean, simple lines of the structure, and informed by the owners’ sophisticated taste, interior architectural elements were understated as well. “There was not a lot of ornamentation,” notes Beyer. “Whenever there was something that could be taken away from the design, like skylights that shed potentially harmful light on their comprehensive art collection, that was the thing to do.” Solid, 12-inch-wide light oak plank flooring imported from Germany was a common thread.
The living room features an Edra (edra.com) sofa
Informal by design and reflective of how the family desired to live, collectively and individually, finishes, fixtures and furnishings were selected by the wife, who, while not a designer by trade, had the good fortune of being inspired by all the places she’s lived. “I’d visit furniture shops in Milan and think, ‘One day I’ll buy a sofa from this shop,’ and I did,” she says. “I incorporated the vision I’ve had over the years into this space.”
Much was imported for the project, particularly from Italy. In the kitchen, where the family spends considerable time cooking and eating, working or watching television, the Boffi (boffi.com) cabinet system and central island are fine examples of Italian craftsmanship, as is the lacquered Tobi-Ishi dining table by B&B Italia (bebitalia.com). The main living room, another key gathering place, features a playful Edra (edra.com) sofa designed to resemble a fluffy bear lying on an ice pack. Throughout, architectural and floor lighting systems were designed in Italy by Davide Groppi (davidegroppi.com).
“WE WERE SO INVOLVED FROM THE BEGINNING, AND LAYING OUT HOW WE WANTED TO LIVE IN THE SPACES WAS SO IMPORTANT.” –THE HOMEOWNERS
Looking back at the project, which was completed just last year, the homeowners note how gratifying the process was. “We were so involved from the beginning, and laying out how we wanted to live in the spaces was so important,” the wife says, “especially while our kids have been schooling from home. It’s amazing to be in this home together.”
Photography by: Sam Ferguson