Scott Lindenau didn’t take a traditional career path to starting his Aspen-based architecture firm, Studio B, in 1991: He considered medical school, worked as a ski instructor, and traveled the world before finally deciding to study architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design. But he caught up quickly. For nearly 25 years, Lindenau has been designing some of the finest contemporary architecture and interiors in the state, including the acclaimed Linear House in Aspen and the Denver offices of the Colorado chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Last year, he opened a second office in east Boulder. We sat down with the architect to find out where he gets his inspiration—within the Centennial State’s borders and beyond.

On Road Trips
“My favorite landscapes are ones of contrast; I spend a lot of time taking road trips between Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. Especially out in the West, the light at sunrise and sunset is very dramatic, and I like to record that through my sketching. I grab a bottle of tequila and a sketchbook and just go. When it comes to tequila, I like anything with a skull on it.”

On The Mile High City
“Denver has some beautiful buildings in LoDo and downtown. They did a great job with the Union Station renovation, and linking that to the airport is going to catapult Denver forward. But generally, the state’s new architecture all looks very similar. I think too many architects spend all their time looking at Dwell magazine and recreating what they see there.”

On Drawing
“Most years, employees at our studio take a sabbatical—we’ve gone to Paris; Dresden, Germany; Barcelona, Spain; Marrakech, Morocco—to do sketching. It really teaches you how to see. Drawing creates a greater awareness of what people are doing out there.”

On Contemporary Architecture

“It’s about capturing light and reducing everything down to the simplistic denominator of living—creating functional spaces and open rooms. A lot of people think of ‘contemporary’ as concrete, glass, and steel, which can be really elegant, but contrast that with textures, furniture, and art.”

On Souvenirs
“[Most people] go to shops and buy things that are made to appeal to the average traveler, but the collection I’ve amassed is more based in rituals, like fertility, circumcision, birth, and death. In the villages I barter. I travel with a Polaroid camera and take photos of people; often, it’s the first photo of themselves they have.”

On Travel
“Every year, I take at least a month off and travel to interesting places. I’ve been to Papua New Guinea, Borneo, Sumatra, and numerous African countries. The landscapes, the textiles of the places I see, and how various cultures create various things—whether it’s a hut or just a temporary structure—all inform my own work. It helps me work toward restraint and detailing.”

—Embedded photos courtesy of Derek Skalko; Jose Cuervo; Scott Lindenau; Raul Garcia