Holz schreibtisch tiny house regional

Experience wood with all your senses!

Why does a German carpenter decide to process air-dried wood into special furniture?

Jasmin Knedeisen's eyes light up at this question. With her concept as a carpenter to process local wood for her thoughtful designs, she finds a sought-after niche in her craft. With her motivation not to 'greenwash', she uses air-dried wood from the nearby countryside east of Berlin. Furthermore, she mixes her wood varnish from a local organic linseed oil giving her handmade furniture natural protection. She produces her furniture in a former engine factory in the East Berlin district ‘Weißensee’. Now the industrial site hosts studios and craft shops for creative people.

Jasmin and her wood ‘connection’

What is so spe­cial about air-dried wood? A log that can dry for many years pre­serves the his­tory of this wood. Jasmin traces the DNA that each tree con­tains with her fur­niture pieces. Even the small idio­syn­crasies of this won­der­ful nat­ur­al mater­i­al find a place in her designs. The slightly wavy edge sides of her coffee table show the trunk side of the wooden planks. The small worm­holes tell us about a healthy eco­sys­tem in which the ash has grown. The smell of the wood and the feel is much more intense than kiln-dried wood. Jas­mine falls in love with the ‘slow’ wood after her first pro­ject using the air-dried ash.

‘Wood love’ at first sight!

Jasmin looks for the right wood for her jour­ney­wo­man piece and finds 'her' air-dried Mecklen­burg ash wood - a per­fect match with her design. Her func­tion­al fur­niture with a simple and eleg­ant design lan­guage secures her the 1st prize in the design com­pet­i­tion 'Gute Form' in Berlin. Exper­i­en­cing the fine smell of wood and oil, run­ning your hand over the tab­letop of the desk and fol­low­ing the spe­cial grain of the ash with your eyes - a feast for the senses and a trib­ute to the wonder of 'nature'.

How does an appreciation of nature become a motivator - also for work?

Jasmin's rela­tion­ship with nature grows over the years. Not only through her sport­ing activ­it­ies such as sport climb­ing or hiking, but also through work exper­i­ences. In a climb­ing lodge in Spain she also main­tains the old garden. The motiv­a­tion to work ‘hands on’ with a nat­ur­al product is a reason to start the appren­tice­ship as a car­penter. After the 3-year course Jasmin ful­fils her dream to live and work for 3 months in Ice­land. A coun­try that offers a unique land­scape with spe­cial nat­ur­al phe­nom­ena. Living in other coun­tries has always appealed to her.

Architect and carpenter - what is my vocation?

This is an import­ant ques­tion for Jasmin. She grows up in Berlin and it is clear to her that she wants to study after gradu­at­ing from high school. An appren­tice­ship in a trade is out of ques­tion for her at this point, even though she comes from a family of crafts­men.

Law, journ­al­ism, and archi­tec­ture were my favour­ites. It had to be cre­at­ive. But I couldn’t decide that at the age of 19. There­fore I spent 6 months as an au pair in London – giving myself some time out.

Jasmin exper­i­ences London as a European met­ro­pol­is with sig­ni­fic­ant archi­tec­ture, high-rise build­ings made of steel and glass. She gets to see the 'Bru­tal­ism' style from the 1970s, his­tor­ic splend­our build­ings and other archi­tec­tur­al styles. With this input, the decision to study archi­tec­ture at the Tech­nic­al Uni­ver­sity in Berlin is clear. Jasmin likes the dis­cus­sion cul­ture and relaxed atmo­sphere at the archi­tec­tur­al depart­ment, but she is still in Berlin.

How is work as a junior architect?

After her BA degree, she con­tin­ues her MA stud­ies in the small town of Aachen. But there, the archi­tec­ture pro­fess­ors embody exactly the image we have in our heads. Unap­proach­able - the 'cre­at­ors' of large build­ing sculp­tures.  Jasmin then enjoys an exchange year in Valen­cia in Spain with south­ern ease and modern archi­tec­ture. After her gradu­ation in Aachen, she starts work­ing as in a region­al famous archi­tec­tur­al firm.

"As pro­ject man­ager, the dead­lines for the com­pet­i­tions were con­stantly on my agenda. Of course, I also worked nights and week­ends. What occu­pied my mind after 2 years was not the stress­ful work, but the fact that many com­pet­i­tion sub­mis­sions are never build or if they become real­ity than in a very much reduced ver­sion. Often the muni­cip­al­it­ies have a budget for the com­pet­i­tion pro­cess, but they don’t have money for the devel­op­ment plan and the real­iz­a­tion."

Wood dust & machine noises instead of a fancy office floor?!

As an altern­at­ive to her work as an archi­tect, Jasmin con­siders becom­ing a car­penter. The idea of com­bin­ing the art of engin­eer­ing with the art of design­ing a ‘sculp­ture’ can also be reflec­ted in a piece of fur­niture. Jasmin is brave enough to go new ways in her early thirties. For this she receives respect and under­stand­ing. The German appren­tice pro­gram includes prac­tic­al train­ing within a com­pany as well as spend­ing 2 days per week at a craft school. With her work­ing exper­i­ence Jasmin knows what she demands from her train­ing com­pany.  She wants to gain the best out of her appren­tice­ship years with the vision of her own 'wood sculp­ture' in mind.

"But then sit­ting in a classroom again as an adult woman, as an archi­tect was a real chal­lenge. In some sub­jects, I was over­qual­i­fied due to my stud­ies. It was good that I was able to work on real pro­jects and fur­niture pieces within my com­pany. In each pro­ject I was guided by a dif­fer­ent car­penter. The work wasn't about speed, but about accur­acy, noti­cing and using details in the wood."

My designs & my furniture

After receiv­ing her offi­cial German crafts­man ship degree Jasmin works as an employed car­penter. But the idea to design and pro­duce her own fur­niture becomes more and more import­ant. She devel­ops her busi­ness concept. Key points are to use local air-dried wood and thus not to do any 'gre­en­wash­ing'. To use time­less design and wood that is main­tained with oil. A thought­ful eco­lo­gic­al approach that allows her fur­niture to become pieces that can be passed down. Jasmin’s style also con­trib­utes to this approach.

"A min­im­al­ist time­less design is my approach! Fili­gree & simple, in the dir­ec­tion of Scand­inavi­an design. I take in con­sid­er­a­tion the use of the fur­niture, the wood and the cus­tom­ers. There­fore, there are no blanket solu­tions for me. A lot of things evolve during the pro­cess. In the design pro­cess for my desk, the shape came to me at night while dream­ing. Ash was the wood I wanted to use. Through vari­ous con­tacts I found this amaz­ing ash log and bought the com­plete planks. I also real­ized the small coffee table with some of the ash planks too. What is import­ant to me is that a piece of fur­niture nat­ur­ally finds its place in a home!"

Jasmin not only designs fur­niture. Her Tiny Guest House, made of spruce on the inside and larch on the out­side with wooden win­dows from a local com­pany, is an abso­lute living dream and the suc­cess­ful com­bin­a­tion of both pro­fes­sions.

How to create a furniture piece?

Jasmin's cus­tom­ers trust her design know-how and her intu­ition for the right type of wood. This is how Jasmin cre­ates excit­ing indi­vidu­al fur­niture pieces.

"My cus­tom­ers do not expect ready-made, digit­ally cre­ated models. I cla­ri­fy tech­nic­al details in my 2-D draw­ings. Some­times I use a 3D model to check the pro­por­tions. This can also be a small card­board model. In the pro­cess of 'design­ing and pro­du­cing', that is when I go from the 2-dimen­sion­al draw­ing to the 3-dimen­sion­al­ity, some­thing hap­pens to my design, to the wood and also to me. This is so excit­ing now. This is what I love about my pro­fes­sion now."

The apple = the wood!

In car­pentry jargon, Jasmin does not speak of 'apple wood' but of the apple. She sees the air-dried planks of the apple and knows right away: they are a per­fect match for her design of a semi-oval wall table. The dif­fer­ent struc­tures, grains and color vari­ations reflect the per­son­al­ity of the apple. The har­mo­ni­ous inter­play res­ults in some­thing spe­cial. The owners now enjoy this unique piece - often 'touch­ing' it.

First step: my own carpentry shop and now?

Jasmin is in the start-up phase of her busi­ness and uses vari­ous net­work­ing events to exchange ideas with other self-employed people. Know­ing cross-trade craftspeople from the region and build­ing a net­work are import­ant points. Par­ti­cip­a­tion in the 'European Days of Crafts' as well as local design mar­kets have gen­er­ated a lot of interest in her designs. Her col­leagues in the shared work­shop give her also some sup­port. Like: some­times you have to be patient. More and more ‘lovers’ for your unique designs and approach will find you.

Happiness & costumers?

Her cus­tom­ers already appre­ci­ate the architect's approach in har­mony with the expert­ise and skill of the car­penter. A crafts­wo­man who under­stands the spe­cial whis­per of wood.  With this intu­ition and her know­ledge Jasmin cre­ates a per­fect fur­niture piece for them.  Her goals: time­less crafts­man­ship, expert­ise, pre­ci­sion & tracery show up in her pieces. After all, less is more!

Name: Jasmin Kne­deis­en

She is:

German car­penter & Archi­tect

To be found in:

An der Indus­trie­bahn 12–16
13088 Berlin
work­shop 407 1/2 (blue door)

She likes:

Tea in the morn­ing, good coffee later; garden­ing; swim­ming in the lake; pad­dling on my SUP; to be in nature; a cool drink on a mild summer even­ing; con­certs; Dance; good food and nice con­ver­sa­tions; and to do 'things' my way and at my pace

She would like to talk to:

The German politi­cian Regine Hildebrandt who was involved in the 1989 polit­ic­al upheav­al  with the former East Ger­many cit­izens' move­ment 'Demo­cracy and Now'

And with Juli Zeh, who is a German writer, lawyer and hon­or­ary judge at the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Court of the State of Branden­burg, Ger­many

Her WIASOLA tip:

Have cour­age, trust your gut feel­ing and intu­ition. Accept everything as a path and per­man­ent devel­op­ment. Com­mu­nic­ate clearly. Main­tain a sense of humor des­pite being ser­i­ous. And free your­self from other people's expect­a­tions.

Her 4 favour­ite books:

  • Milan Kun­dera - The Unbear­able Light­ness of Being
  • Isabel Allende - The ghost house
  • Anna Gavalda - Alles Glück kommt nie / All hap­pi­ness never comes
  • Juli Zeh - Unter Leuten / Within People

To be found under:

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