Set to debut next summer in Denver, Colorado, Populus—the first carbon-positive hotel in the U.S.—offers a sneak peek of its nature-centric interiors.
The property’s interiors, crafted by Wildman Chalmers Design in tandem with Fowler + Fowler Architecture, will be distinguished by warm tones, natural elements, undulating forms, and an Aspen tree designed to complement the building’s distinctive biophilic architecture from Studio Gang.
In alignment with Populus’ carbon-positive mission, all elements—from materials to furniture and art—prioritize sustainability to minimize the building’s carbon footprint.
The first floor of the hotel, awash with warm browns and wood, mimics a forest floor and features a double-height lobby with Aspen-eye windows, a lively bar, and a sculptural grand staircase. Noteworthy is a Reishi tapestry constructed from a leather alternative made from mushroom roots, that casts a warm glow on the space. The reception area, carved into a tree-like nook, is distinguished by a wood-shingled wall repurposed from beetle kill trees.
The team “thoughtfully curated colors, textures, and shapes that not only look beautiful, but appeal to all of the senses and emotions, just as a walk through the forest would,” explains Heather Wildman, principal and design director of Wildman Chalmers Design.
The second floor, which represents the tree’s understory, hosts meeting spaces and communal areas. Nature-inspired hues like coppers, mossy greens, and oceanic blues enliven neutral tones to create a vibrant forest atmosphere. Populus’ 265 guestrooms, designed to resemble a tree’s trunk, are bright and naturally lit, balancing out the dramatically dark and quiet corridors.
On the top floor, a public gathering space with a rooftop restaurant, outdoor bar, garden terrace, and hospitality suites await. The rooftop will be crafted as a celebration of color and light, inspired by a treetop and the way it changes colors throughout the seasons.
“By taking cues from nature and partnering with local artisans, we hope to create a strong connection between the design of Populus and the earth and its surroundings,” Wildman adds.
Curated by artist and environmentalist Katherine Homes, Populus’ art collection fosters a dialogue between biophilia and art. Notable pieces include a commissioned painting by Cheyenne and Arapaho artist Brent Learned that tells a story of peaceful communication, as well as an elevator art experience by conservationist Jacob Job that depicts local bird songs.
“The more you connect with nature, the more you understand it and want to preserve it,” says Homes. “Our hope is that Populus helps give a voice to the wild and inspires people to spend time outdoors with a renewed appreciation for the earth.”