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Peak Design: Conversation with Scott Lindenau



The term “Aspen style” may naturally conjure up visions of traditional ski chalets: logs, rustic stones and the ever-popular antler chandeliers. But as The Wall Street Journal pointed out just a few months ago, chalet designs in Aspen have gone out right along with the town’s quaint mining roots. Today, Aspen has evolved into one of the world’s premier destinations, where names like Gucci, Dior and St. Regis are as common as the celebrities that flock to the region for its glamorous après-ski lifestyle. But Aspen is not just a glitzy winter getaway for seasonal dwellers and snow bunnies. In fact, it’s a year-round haven for wealthy sophisticates who are searching for privacy, serenity and the simplicity of a carefully designed home in an alpine setting that speaks to their more modern interests.  

As minimalist architect Scott Lindenau, FAIA explains: “Aspen is a true cultural destination, an intense intellectual community of like-minded thinkers. Our clients are typically well-traveled and many own homes all over the world. They know art and architecture. They don’t come here for the Aspen scene.”  

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Linear House in Aspen by Scott Lindenau. Photography by Derek Skalko.

Previews Inside Out caught up with Lindenau just as the snow began to fall outside his studio, to talk about mountain minimalism and how the Aspen’s architecture has matured in the last 20 years.  

Previews Inside Out When people think of Aspen and other mountain resorts, they usually think of logs and rustic, overdesigned interiors with deer antlers and Swiss cowbells. Can mountain architecture really be minimal? 

Scott Lindenau Good question. We enjoy dispelling that myth everyday. People from Miami, L.A., New York and Chicago come to Colorado for alpine views, drama and the desire to escape and enjoy nature at its fullest. Our work provides the backdrop for that. We distill very complex architectural ideas into simple gestures—and it’s not an easy thing to do. Our design process requires time, but our floor plans end up being extremely efficient and communal. They’re designed for the way people live today, often without a formal dining room with the media room and kitchen all opening to each other. When people come here, they want to be together—with their family and friends. 

Previews Inside Out Can minimalism be luxurious?

Scott Lindenau Absolutely. It’s all in the details.

Previews Inside Out What’s the most luxurious ski feature you’ve ever designed into a home?

Scott Lindenau Ski boot warming drawers. We designed a series of concealed drawers to house ski boots for a family of 10.

Previews Inside Out Are there any differences in designing a minimalist home in Aspen, compared to a minimalist home in another vacation setting?

Scott Lindenau There are, of course, climatic differences. But the design process is essentially the same. Before we design anything, we research the site, history, geology, patterns and the client’s lifestyle and program requirements. We verify and determine what’s important to them and how they live? How do they wake up? How do they cook?  We pinpoint the habits of their lifestyle so the house truly represents how they will live within it.

Studio B - Linear - Scott Lindenau_Living Room_780px

Previews Inside Out What are a few architectural elements or materials that you frequently incorporate into your work that are unique to Aspen? 

Scott Lindenau We often employ floor-to-ceiling glass and different kinds of concrete—which is a great insulator from the cold. We work with many different types of stone, all within a minimal palette. We usually get 4-5 material samples a week, so we research them thoroughly to see how they work in our climate. We use local artisans to uniquely lay the stone so there is art to the masonry. We typically don’t like to use a lot of wood on our exteriors because of the maintenance and upkeep associated with it.

In the Linear House, we used reclaimed teak sourced from old bridges in Burma, wire-brushed white oak, hand-chiseled limestone in the interiors and exteriors and authentic Japanese plaster. This house is all about texture, shadow and natural light. Since the owners have international backgrounds—he is from Hong Kong and she is from Spain—they wanted a home that pays homage to nature and provides a clean palette for housing their art, as well as their vintage Italian and French furnishing collection. They were really drawn to the spirit of the wood living with them in the home. Having a poetic dialogue with the material palette was very important to them and us.

Studio B - Linear House - Scott Lindenau_interior_780px

Previews Inside Out If you were going to purchase or build a ski home today, what would be the one element you would look for?

Scott Lindenau  A vibrant context.  A site that has a lot of elements I could react to and draw cues from—whether it’s rock, water, light, shadow or a unique history. I work towards weaving that research into the architecture. The Linear House, for example, is located within a dense grove of 24 acres of Aspen trees, which have a light creamy skin. The exterior, made out of limestone, is the same hue as the trees, so the home blends seamlessly into the surrounding landscape—almost like it is a part of the land. 

Previews Inside Out What’s your advice to a homeowner who wants to build a home that is minimal, yet still reflective of its rustic mountain surroundings?

Scott Lindenau Embrace the natural beauty of the surroundings and explore a vision. 

Scott Lindenau, FAIA is the design principal of Studio B Architects in Aspen, Colorado. A former skier, passionate yoga devotee and long-time resident of Aspen, Lindenau has more than 21 years of experience designing modernist spaces that elevate and enhance the human spirit. Studio B’s fresh, minimalist design has captured national attention, including publications such as ELLE DÉCORArchitectural Digest and Western Interiors. The firm’s work—set in environs across the United States, in Zambia and the Virgin Islands—have received over 50 prestigious AIA design awards. For more information on Studio B, log onto 


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Peak Design: Conversation with Scott Lindenau

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