On Luxury and Sustainability

Sustainability is a vital—but hackneyed—word these days. So rather than lecture you, we aim to inspire you with our cover story on the home of Aspen architect Rich Carr (page 30). There’s nothing hippy-dippy about this home’s marriage of stunning architecture and high-tech, resource-conscious residential design. Likewise, our story on a design firm, Slifer Designs, shows how green is going beyond niche to normal. And why not bring sustainable design to your domestic domain?  With all the eco-friendly products now available, homes can have it all: cutting-edge energy efficiency and visually interesting contemporary aesthetics.

We thought about the charge toward building and living green when we attended a recent symposium on the state of the local real estate market produced by real estate agent BJ Adams and her firm. Kudos to BJ for the organization put in to this well-attended event. The keynote speaker, Dr. Jim Taylor from the strategic-marketing research firm The Harrison Group, is the author of The New Elite: Inside the Minds of the Truly Wealthy. There are still a few big pockets of wealth in the United States, he said, and Aspen is certainly among them. In fact, Taylor said, Aspen has been more immune to this recession than any community in the country.

I was thinking about the meaning of Taylor’s findings when I saw another magazine dub luxury “that so-last-August-sounding word.”  In the last couple of years, conspicuous consumption has been mistaken for luxury.

But let’s define our terms. Quality. Authenticity. History. Scarcity. The freedom of self-expression. Time to pursue one’s passions. Resilience. These are words to describe the timeless quality of luxury. They are also words to describe the heart and soul of Aspen, a town that has always survived business cycles and the fickleness of fashion. And, I must add, these words have always been at the heart and soul of this magazine.

By Janet O’Grady, Editor’s Letter, Aspen Magazine October 2009.

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