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What Exactly Is The Aspen Aesthetic? We Find Out From Two Local Experts

By Michael McCarthy | November 10, 2020 | Home & Real Estate

Exceptional home design has come to define this mountain town—we chat with two designers who’ve been part of creating architectural beauty among the hills.

34_Placer_2067.jpgRo | Rockett Design created a home with an exterior that blends seamlessly into the valley’s landscape.

When a town’s roughly 7,000 residents include some of the planet’s most important cultural innovators, the places where they live will inevitably reflect an unmatched aesthetic. Visitors driving through town and into the nearby mountains will quickly notice architecture that is at once stunning and perfectly attuned to the land, especially with the marriage of modern design and natural elements.

“We have project locations in beautiful places across the country, but will say that one of our favorite locations to work is Aspen,” says Zac Rockett, principal at Ro | Rockett Design, a Los Angeles- and San Francisco-based firm that boasts standout designs in Aspen. “It’s a place of such natural drama, and we work hard to try and capture that in the spirit of each project. In fact, we find the Roaring Fork Valley a very humbling spot—these houses become both a refuge from the elements and a bridge to such a beautiful landscape.”

See also: Aspen Real Estate Is Booming. Here's How To Navigate The Red-Hot Market

living_room_final.jpgRo | Rockett’s design team always capitalizes on outstanding views of the Roaring Fork Valley.

Rockett says his team’s background and interests are strongly rooted in modernism. “We try to let the aesthetic develop specific to the unique interests and conditions of each project,” he says. “We love working with natural materials and voluminous spaces—we then work to animate these with an abundance of natural light and strong connections to the outdoors.”

DavidMarlow_Zone4_Day3_0027.jpgNatural elements like stone and wood help Zone 4 Architects create an Aspen masterpiece.

Aspen-based Zone 4 Architects has a reputation for contemporary design, but the firm’s principal, Dylan Johns, says Aspen itself provides creative fodder—with “an amazing range of inspiration from the natural and built environment.”

Johns says his typical client is sophisticated, well-traveled and expects the best. “Aspen is a place where they can let their guard down and recharge, so [we] spend a lot of time getting to know [clients] to deliver the best possible design for their aesthetics, lifestyle and property, while also looking out for their budget, keeping the process efficient and bringing as much value to the design and construction as possible.”

See also: The Real Deal: 9 Most Jaw-Dropping Homes To Hit The Market Across The Country

34_Placer_862-HDR-Pano.jpgOutdoor gathering spaces for entertaining are essential in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Rockett says his firm’s approach is also quite iterative. “We turn over a lot of stones in an effort to identify the most successful design solution. We love it when clients roll up their sleeves and get into the middle of that process with us, contemplating the differences of each proposal,” he says. Rockett notes he and his business partner, Jason Ro, were trained as designers in environments where many ideas were rejected before they were approved. “We bring our clients into that conversation and feel that some of the most successful projects have buy-in along the way by all parties,” says Rockett. “We try our best to spend as much time as we can listening to our clients’ interests and desires, and then we spend even more time working to translate these fairly abstract ideas into built reality. The granular details that we can tease out and pick up along the way often end up being the most critical ingredients in the final soup.”

And what a tantalizing and gorgeous soup it is. Drink up Aspen’s architecture—it’s some of the most aesthetically nourishing you’ll encounter anywhere.

Photography by: From top, photos: by Draper White Photography; by Draper White Photography; by David Marlow; by Draper White Photography