Understanding Aspen

Suomi Design Works, the New York and Florida-based firm led by Michael Suomi, has conceptualized a renovation and restoration of 98 guest suites at Aspen Meadows Resort, located within The Aspen Institute’s historic mountain campus. Originally designed by noted Bauhaus student, teacher and proselytizer Herbert Bayer, the firm utilized both the existing heritage furnishings, paired with new pieces to build upon the Institute’s unique legacy.

Set on 40 acres, Aspen Meadows Resort, located within The Aspen Institute and operated by Salamander Hotels & Resorts, is a secluded sanctuary where nature integrates with art. The resort brings Aspen’s past and present to life with ongoing special programs, unique art and history and ample access to the outdoors and mountain recreation.

Suomi Design Works used principals created by Bauhaus founders Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer to create the renewed Aspen Meadows guest suites, including all new furnishings and details such as rectilinear sofas and wood wall panels aligned with the suite architecture. Ranging from studios to two-bedroom suites, the firm approached the interior renovations with a deep understanding of the historic significance of the exterior details. By carrying the architectural lines of the buildings through the design of the furniture and the finishes, Aspen Meadows maintains its legacy with a renewed sense of comfort for 21st-century travelers.

“We included many instances of the custom colors developed by Bayer with Benjamin Moore to represent the Bauhaus’ original primary color theory, Bayer Red, Bayer Blue and Bayer Yellow. We followed Bayer’s original use of this palette with Blue for details, and Red and Yellow for more interactive pieces near the windows. These primary colors became the core palette for materials and finishes,” said Michael Suomi, president, Suomi Design Works.

Creating a space that feels modern, clean and expansive, while also warm and thoughtfully planned, Suomi Design Works paired Bayer’s original primary color palette of red, blue and yellow, with natural woods such as charcoal-stained white oak and natural finished walnut, bringing outdoor colors in, and accompanying these with legacy pieces. The design team also identified a distinct palette of textiles, some designed by influential textile designers and influenced by an original student of the Bauhaus, Anni Albers, to restore the legacy pieces by designers who were sympathetic to Bauhaus origins such as Bertoia, Nessen, Lowenstein and Saarinen. Originally designed and crafted for Knoll, Bertoia’s collection of handmade seating built from welded steel wire was recovered, including pieces such as the Diamond, Bird and Side chairs. Noted Aspen photographer Ferenc Berko’s original, hand-embossed photographs, shot for the Institute in the 1960s, were cleaned and rehung to enforce the new design.

The firm’s design includes thoughtful 21st-century updates such as guest-convenience power ports, oversized tables for entertainment, eating and working, underbed luggage nooks and Anni Albers-inspired integrated boot-scrubbing flooring at entry points. Working with Kohler to capture the Bauhaus ideology, Suomi Design Works customized a unique bathroom faucet with a single disc control, allowing for it to operate on a tilt and to control volume and temperature all at once.

“This suite renovation has been delivered with great respect for our unique history, and represents Aspen Meadows’ future and evolution,” said Richard Stettner, VP, Aspen Campus facilities and operations, The Aspen Institute, which owns the resort.

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