A world of wonders

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The multifaceted Paul Schürch, owner of Schürch Woodwork in Santa Barbara, Calif., has an impressive repertoire of more than 250 unique pieces influenced by classical styles, sometimes with a twist. And Schürch is as dynamic as his work. With more than 30 years of woodworking and other diverse trade experiences, he draws upon this knowledge to create unique limited-edition and one-of-a-kind pieces. He speaks several languages, travels often, and continues to network with other masters, craftsmen and students around the world.

Schürch’s work is mostly known by his loyal following of private clients, gallery owners and designers for his furniture work, with the attention to detail and intricate marquetry with playful imagery layered into the classical influences he has been exposed to throughout his career. He occasionally complements the veneer work with decorative shell, stone and metal inlays. The results are anything but assembly-line furniture, and they usually end up as a ‘stand-alone’ as the focal piece for a room.

Paul Schürch

Owner of: Schürch Woodwork

Location: Santa Barbara, Calif.

Size of Shop: 3,300 sq. ft.

Years of experience: 35

About: Paul Schürch has been successfully operating a furniture studio since 1980. He has designed and built scores of custom furniture, marquetry artwork and architectural components in traditional and contemporary styles. He incorporates fanciful marquetry into many of his pieces, a skill he learned from an Italian master.

Quotable: “Nature is a great inspiration for many of my designs. It is most apparent in the imagery of the marquetry, but I also use it as a guide for the overall mechanical design of the piece — nature has an organic flow and logical order to it.”

Nowadays, Schürch is relying on the continued success of his classes on furniture making, veneering and marquetry techniques to pass on the knowledge he learned in the past. Aside from teaching week-long seminars at his own studio and places such as the Marc Adams School of Woodworking in Franklin, Ind.; William NG School of Fine Woodworking in Anaheim, Calif.; Little Gum Creek Workshop in Atlanta and AWFS in Las Vegas, he is becoming more involved in modern technology to increase the interactive flow of education. He’s also becoming increasingly involved with designing and consulting for other woodworking shops and interior designers.

“There seems to be a great need to retain and revitalize some of these hand skills that are becoming lost in today’s modern shop environment. I am grateful that I have a role in supporting others to achieve their desire to become more versatile and skilled in the woodworking trades.”

European influence
Schürch grew up in Santa Barbara and leaned to play the piano when he was 5. He entered the National Guild of Classical Music, which he attributes to wiring his brain in a certain way allowing him to multi-task and think outside the box. Before he was finished with high school, his family moved to Bern, Switzerland, where his father, an astrophysicist, was born.

“I wasn’t really inspired by the American school system, and my parents wisely decided that I should pursue a trade instead of following a scholastic career.”

Overseas, he learned the languages of Swiss German, French and Italian. He had considered becoming a professional musician, but seemed happiest building with his hands. Schürch began his apprenticeship building pianos at the Wernli Klavier Fabrik in Bern for one year. Then he transferred his studies to the Neidhart und Loete Orgel Fabric in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, where he worked with several trade masters engaged in the art of designing, building and finishing mechanical tracker pipe organs for churches and private residence throughout Europe. He graduated with honors with his journeyman’s degree in 1978.