((L) Justin Nelson in the Shop. (R) Oxbend Chairs | Photos courtesy of Fernweh Woodworking)
Fernweh Woodworking is a veteran-owned, high-end woodworking business that is based in Bend. Founded in 2015 by Justin Nelson, Fernweh strives to create modern, sleek and stylish pieces of furniture that can add some flair to any home.
Nelson graduated from Purdue University with a degree in business, then spent some time in the United States Marine Corps. After that, he then found himself on a firefighter hotshot crew. After these jobs, he decided he wanted to move to Bend and take up woodworking; a craft that he actually had no prior experience in. With nothing but a love of design and the passion to learn, he started his business and became a self-taught woodworker.
“I call myself ‘self-taught’ but that really includes a ton of YouTube videos and books on woodworking,” Nelson said. “Alongside my digital lessons, I learned that the woodworking community is robust, alive and very helpful. We’re very involved in the greater woodworking community and I learned a ton from some of the more experienced woodworkers I connected with.”
A few of Nelson’s design inspirations are Sam Maloof (particularly his passion, kindness, and work ethic); Hans Wegner (his practicality and purposeful creativity); and Finn Juhl (his pursuit of perfect curves and natural beauty). All of these inspirations come alive in Fernweh’s collection of modern and sleek designs.
The design aesthetic of Fernweh’s work has been described as “Danish” mingled with “Mid-Century Modern.” However, Nelson’s goal for each piece is to stand out as an original that creates a category of its own. This aesthetic, while striving to be bold and new, is also heavily based on Nelson’s admiration for great Danish designers.
At this point in his business, Nelson says they are in the middle of a big phase of change. “Right now we are in a 2000 square foot space, but we’ve been growing rapidly enough that we feel comfortable making plans to expand into a larger commercial space,” Nelson said. “With this growth, we still want to keep things in Central Oregon. We’ve had the chance to outsource beyond this region, but we’ve turned them down to keep things as local as possible, despite the fact that most of our sales go out East to areas like New York.”
The first big modern launch that now defines Fernweh’s style was the Sun Chair back in 2017. This last September, Fernweh crafted their 100th Sun Chair on the fifth anniversary of its original launch. Nelson and his team will be unveiling a new collection, with plans to launch it for the public sometime next year.
For the future, Nelson is just focused on maintaining the quality of his products, unveiling a new line of modern furniture and expanding into a larger space. The future for Fernweh appears to be a bright one, filled with growth that prioritizes supporting and staying local.