Paul Russell | Aspekt Designs

Geraldo de Barros (1923 – 1998), was a painter, photographer, and designer and one of the most influential Brazilian artists of the 20th century. He was also active as a furniture designer from the mid ’50’s until the end of the ’80’s.

The peripatetic artist Paul Russell of Aspekt Design first encountered de Barros’ furniture on one of many trips to Europe to ski and explore. A gallery in Geneva was showing his work.

Russell was particularly struck by a table de Barros crafted from walnut and steel painted white. He paid tribute to the South American in one of his latest works, also a table, this one originally created for Telluride Arts’ Art & Architecture weekend 2019, also from walnut and steel painted white – but finished with one of Russell’s signature touches, a ski cable.

Ski lift cables and chains are a thing in Russell’s work, a legacy of his background growing up in the mountains of Telluride, where he became an extreme skier. (In  his 20’s, Russell skied professionally.)

A second Russell piece designed for Art & Architecture, “The Plank,” features a piece of chain from the old Durango railroad.

“The consistent threads through my life are a love of the mountains, a passion for skiing, an appreciation of ski town life, and a love of travel. All of that feeds into my work.”

Before becoming a professional artist, Russell worked for seven years as Mr. Fixit  on a local ranch, where he also gave ATV and snowmobile tours. He left that job to opened a motorcycle shop with his wife Susie Schaefer-Russell.

Today Schaefer-Russell is working on a remodel of Lumiere, a charming boutique hotel/residence in Telluride Mountain Village, where she is an owner. The hotel’s new look pays tribute to Telluride’s mining days and showcases a number original Russells, pieces crafted from white oak and walnut for the durability of those woods and finished off with mountain memorabilia, a cable or chain.