Modern design has been getting in touch with its cozy side for a while now — with wood paneling and sheepskin chairs suddenly reigning supreme. This raises an interesting dilemma for ski resorts. If more and more interiors are taking cues from chalets, how does a Colorado getaway like Mollie Aspen manage to make its own mark when it comes to design? The answer that Basalt, Colorado architecture firm CCY Architects and Brooklyn interiors studio Post Company came up with involves balancing all that coziness with a little Bauhaus rigour. In the process, the hotel becomes a thoughtful tribute to Aspen’s own rich design history.
Indeed, Mollie Aspen comes by its Bauhaus associations honestly. After leaving the German art school in 1928, artist and designer Herbert Bayer later moved to Aspen and was recruited by Walter Paepcke — a developer intent on reimagining the former mining town as a hub of culture and sport. Bayer quickly set to work realizing this vision, designing travel posters that would woo skiers to Aspen’s summits as well as modern buildings like the Aspen Institute that would welcome them once they arrived. The crown jewel of these projects is perhaps the Aspen Meadows Resort, featuring recessed balconies with walls painted in a very Bauhausian palette of primary colours.
For its part, the exterior of Mollie Aspen delivers its own reflection of industrial modernism with simple rectangular forms — albeit ones rendered here in wood and brick to better integrate with the city’s present-day main street, which skews more rustic.
Then again, perhaps this isn’t such a departure from Weimar teachings. After all, the Bauhaus always found ways for clean lines and comfort to coexist — and this is the aspect of Bauhaus lore that Mollie Aspen is most interested in exploring. The influence of the school’s craft program — and the textile work of Anni Albers in particular — is most apparent in the hotel’s lobby, where a hand-dyed woven artwork by Philadelphia textile artist Rachel Snack hangs next to the steel fireplace.
Blankets and rugs in the guest rooms continue the focus on soft textures and graphic patterns. Building on the orderly geometry of these elements, coffered ceilings follow the rigid discipline of a Mies van der Rohe façade — and yet their fabrication in light wood rather than cool steel ends up delivering an additional layer of warmth.
These finishes also make for a natural complement to their setting — with the wood-heavy interiors carrying the surrounding forest of Aspen trees inside, and the moody, neutral earth tones creating another link to the Rocky Mountain landscape.
As for the furnishings, the lobby is filled with a collection of largely vintage pieces by designers like Mario Bellini — another way of bridging past and present.
The result is a getaway that follows the familiar ski chalet formula, but also delivers enough novelty to evoke the feeling of fresh powder. By casting a spotlight on Aspen’s Bauhaus history, Mollie Aspen proves the timelessness of the school’s teachings.
Tapping into local design history, CCY Architects and Post Company deliver a celebration of modern craft.