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Paul Bertelli's Current Inspirations

The Senior Design Principal and President of JLF Architects is also an avid skier and foodie

Portrait by Audrey Hall

It seems Paul Bertelli was born with an eye for architecture. Growing up in Boston in the ‘50s, he got his start building makeshift treehouses and wooden forts in the forested area surrounding his childhood home. “We used twigs and sticks and pine needles to create these little play spaces,” he recalls. “It always came down to this idea of handmade; we didn’t have a tent to pitch but we’d make shelters out of what we found in the woods.”

Decades later, this philosophy of working with authentic handcrafted materials and the native land has carried into Bertelli’s Bozeman-based firm JLF Architects, where his team of designers creates homes rooted in the vast Western landscape. “You have a canvas that is virtually untouched, and that can be frightening in that what you do is quite permanent and obvious … but it also gives you this freedom to express what it is about this place that’s important,” Bertelli says.

Here, the architect, avid skier and foodie shares his current inspirations.

Photo by Audrey Hall

Honesty in materials. If it’s a stone wall, it needs to be a 2-foot-thick stone wall. It can’t be a veneer, 3 inches of stone. If something is reclaimed, it needs to have the sort of strength and integrity that it had in its original life; faking anything shows its age pretty rapidly.

Photo: Clyfford Still Museum © City and County of Denver

Clyfford Still (above, PH-1074, 1956),  Maja Lisa Englehardt, Peter Brandes, Charles Russell, Albert Paley, Audrey Hall.

I have a huge collection of All-Clad pots that are fabulous. I’ve used them every day for 20 years and they still look brand new. Like my dad used to say, “Take care of your tools and they will last a lifetime.”

Photo: Penguin Books 

Collapse by Jared Diamond, Out of Our Minds by Sir Ken Robinson, The Sellout by Paul Beatty (if you want to understand race in America, read this book) and anything and everything by Dana Gioia, David Brooks and David Quammen.

Photo: Shutterstock

The Guggenheim Museum. That building is a beautiful work of art. The central light that comes into that space is incredible. It’s always a very dynamic and exciting place to be. It’s a genius of a building in that way.

To run a mile under 7 minutes, and the long and healthy life that comes with it.

Pueblo pottery and Middle Eastern antique wooden vessels.

I’m learning that the less I take, the better. I take my Simms backpack and two good books wherever I go.

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