“Mountain Modern takes its color palate from nature by uniting natural materials. You feel at one with nature when the design is implemented. It is not a trend, but the way people want to live – smaller, simpler and calmer.”

Collisions and mountains aren’t strangers. Mountain ranges form as great plates of land collide, yield and uplift. Swirling clouds collide with the mountains and weather brings the sculpting forces of wind, snow, rain, and water. In the design community, modern architecture and contemporary interior design are in a collision course with the mountain lifestyle and traditional mountain building practices, birthing the new design movement of Mountain Modern.

“Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space,” asserted Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a pioneering master of modern architecture along with Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier. Modernism emerged at the beginning of the century with influences from Art Nouveau, the early work of Frank Lloyd Wright, and industrial design, according to architectural historian,Spiro Kostov. Drivers were new materialism, standardization, prefabrication and an available material palette of concrete, steel and glass thanks to preceding industrial advances.

Philosophically, the modernist movement pursued freedom from the past, similar to the political movements in Europe immediately after the First World War. The new emphasis was on function, honest expression of structure and materials, and a rational approach to design. This included suppressing all ornamentation and historic allusions and style. In keeping, the forced symmetry of classical architecture was abandoned in favor of balanced asymmetry. The pioneers of modernism adopted a fitness of purpose expressed in a desire to simplify and eliminate the superfluous. Less is more became a repeated saying of Mies van der Rohe.

“Modern Mountain building design should be smart, sustainable, timeless, architecturally artistic extensions of local indigenous architecture. In other words, using new and existing practices in interesting new and inventive ways. They should not be stark imports from different locals and cities that do not fit the area. They must also fulfill the cultural make up of the end user in tomorrow’s terms!”

~ Michael Blash – Michael Blash and Associates, PA, Architecture/Planning/Graphics, Ketchum
Michaelblashandassociates.com

“If choosing artwork for a modern home feels daunting, remember first that there are no rules other than your personal taste and the statement you want it to make. Since contemporary interior design is about clean lines and often neutral color schemes, you might consider artwork that mimics its minimalist attitude. Find artists whose sense of color and form complement the design elements of your home. Oftentimes their influences and intention are based on mid-century modern design. However, if you want to showcase the art and create a statement, choose work that emphasizes the contrast in color and line.

In the end, buying art should be about realizing what you are consistently drawn to and developing your eye. If you buy what you like, you will always be happy.”

~ L’Anne Gilman – Gilman Contemporary, Ketchum
www.gilmancontemporary.com

“I believe good and successful contemporary design is always easy to understand, and while design should ultimately speak of its time

and place, you can and should still have some fun with it. Mountain modern is without doubt catching on for those who appreciate that a simple clean design works.”


~ Rob McGowan – Architectural Resources/Poliform Sun Valley, Ketchum

As exemplified by the International Style, modern urban architecture turned inward. The buildings were anchored to the site, but did not extend to define the spaces around them or to create interaction with the streetscapes. While designers aimed at efficiencies in places to live and work, the buildings did not connect with their inhabitants emotionally or by tradition. Mies van der Rohe reported he searched and distilled until he reached an architecture that said “almost nothing.”

As with most movements, modernism continued to evolve as new designers pressed it forward in fresh directions and some of the early practitioners extended their thinking. The U.S. also honed its own version of modernism after World War II. Especially in California, modern residential architecture became more conscious of the sites as rooms articulated to terraces and patios for outdoor living, and some architects began to specify outdoor spaces and landscaping.

While there have been other important subsequent architectural trends and movements, a minority of practitioners have continued undeterred in the modernist tradition. However, in the last decade, there has been a considerable resurgence of public interest in mid-century modernism and the current modernists’ work.

Until this time, mountain architecture and interior design has largely followed in the traditions of climate-tested designs like cabins, lodges, and chalets that use the abundant local materials of stone, logs and timber. These are designs that are immersed in custom and tied to comfort.

Now, mountain meets modern. It is an exciting time for new creations using the modern materials of concrete, glass and steel juxtaposed with traditional mountain timber and stone. The simplicity of the finishes and interiors draw the occupants’ eyes to the outdoors where windows function like a room’s art.

It is fresh, new, daring design filled with individual innovations and creativity from the talented architects, designers, and builders of the area, complemented by the artwork. Let’s see their works and what they are saying about the collision as mountain meets modern. ~ Story By Ann Zimmerman

“It’s interesting to observe the evolution of architectural design in mountain resorts over the last 40 years.

Initially designs were based on mountain architecture found in Europe, especially in The Alps, where snow country design dictated large roof overhangs using log or timber posts and log, timber or stone walls with small windows to retain heat. Building materials were limited to what was available in the immediate area.

With new materials and technologies, architects have been given the opportunity to reinvent the mountain vernacular with access to limitless materials and surfaces, and they have the opportunity to utilize larger windows.

The resulting architecture is now more open to the outside environment with the ability to bring the outside in and enjoy nature as opposed to the cave-like buildings of the past. These advances in materials and construction have brought a more modern approach to the design of what is known as mountain architecture.”

~Jim McLaughlin – McLaughlin & Associates Architects, Sun Valley
mclaughlinarchitects.com

“Mountain Modern takes its color palate from nature by uniting natural materials. You feel at one with nature when the design is implemented. It is not a trend, but the way people want to live – smaller, simpler and calmer”

~ Elisabeth Grabher – AveryGrabher Construction, Ketchum
www.grabherconstruction.com

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