“Fernweh is a German word for which there is no English equivalent,” explains Justin Nelson, Designer, Craftsman and Founder of Fernweh Woodworking. “It roughly means to be homesick for somewhere you’ve never been. Our vision is to produce thoughtful and meaningful pieces that will become part of the essential fabric of the home. I value simple beauty and a sense of organic life in each of our creations, designing furniture based on how I think it should be shaped – not whichever shape would be the easiest to build.”
A former Marine Officer turned wildland firefighter, Justin started out making small home decor pieces in the off-season, inspired by the ethical design philosophy of the celebrated American woodworker Sam Maloof and the Danish chair designer Hans Wegner. He began handcrafting beautiful, bespoke furniture for clients in 2015 and is entirely self-taught in woodworking and design.
“I hope, to some extent, that I will always feel like a beginner,” he says. “No matter how much you learn, there is still the opportunity to be excited by the ocean of knowledge that is yet to be discovered.”
Based in a workshop in Oregon in the US, Fernweh’s small team handcrafts furniture in small- to medium-sized batches, with great care and attention going into the shaping and sanding of each individual piece. Justin hopes to preserve the integral link between design and manufacture, executing both aspects in-house, and wants Fernweh Woodworking to remain as a small-batch studio with skilled craftspeople, focused on marketing to the interior design and architectural trades.
The company has gently expanded its client base nationwide and is keen to grow its current premises into a larger workshop with the space to include a small showroom. But Justin is eager to keep things personal. “I love having that direct connection with our clients,” he says. “It’s a joy to deliver furniture in person and see the happiness on their faces when they see the pieces that they have commissioned for the first time. It makes it all worthwhile.”