Hier kommt das User Feedback

Phone E-Mail Info
Cut from the same tree

Cut from the same tree

Cut from the same tree

This story has all the ingredients of a fairy tale: two brothers who left and then returned. One loves wood, the other loves people, and both love the Bregenzerwald. Luckily it's not a fairy tale and the brothers can share their joy with others.

Six or seven years ago, Johannes and Wolfgang Zündel moved away from Schwarzenberg to seek their fortunes elsewhere. At the time, Johannes was 25 and had trained as an electrician before travelling extensively in Asia. His brother Wolfgang, who was three years younger, had started working for an architectural firm. Together, they moved to the other side of the ‘big mountain’ to the bustling city of Dornbirn.

Here the brothers shared a small house together. But Wolfgang had a vision. To realise his ambition, he would first have to move to a significantly larger city, i.e. Vienna. “I’ve never been one to rest on my laurels. My plan was always to take over my father’s carpentry business. But before doing so, I wanted to create something new, something of my own, and to combine that with the tried and tested.” So it was that Wolfgang began to develop beds made from solid wood and founded the company Zirbenwolf. Though the furniture was manufactured in Schwarzenberg, it was marketed and sold, at least in the early years, in Vienna.

“Here in the Bregenzerwald, people have a deep-rooted appreciation for the value of good wood. Almost everyone here has a carpenter in the family and thus probably also a good bed. But Vienna is, or at least was, a market niche in terms of solid wood furniture.” By showcasing Zirbenwolf beds at trade fairs, the brand was able to impress customers in person. “This is a decisive factor because only those who can see the bed up close and smell the wood understand the difference between our beds and one from a department store. Furthermore, once customers learn that the bed is made entirely of wood, so that it could burn completely without any residues or black smoke, they are sold.” In the meantime, Wolfgang has moved back to Schwarzenberg, enlarged his range to include other furniture pieces, and expanded the market to include Germany and Switzerland.

Initially, Johannes was drawn much further away from home than just Vienna. After a short stopover in Dornbirn, he first landed in India. “I was restless and in search of myself. When I met a yoga master in India, I stayed with him and learned about my inner balance.” Back in Europe, however, everything was soon off-kilter again. “I was working as a ski instructor in the winter and one day, from one second to the next, I realised that what I was doing was wrong, that it was against my nature, especially my inner rhythm. So I went back to Asia, this time to Thailand. There I completed my yoga teacher training and lived on a small island. That was my salvation and my inner compass.” Today, these experiences still serve to give him direction.

After returning to Vorarlberg, Johannes also moved back to Schwarzenberg and now lives in a 350-year-old house near Bödele. Renovations at the property are still ongoing. Johannes, who is completely his father’s son, knows exactly what he’ s doing. To this day, he also still helps out in his brother’s business. Nevertheless, one thing is clear to him: “I want to work with people. A year ago I completed a shiatsu training, I am completing a cranio-sacral therapy training, and I am also a yoga teacher and yoga therapist. The different methods are like tools that I can choose from like a toolbox. When someone comes to me, I can respond to their needs appropriately.”

Johannes also offers courses and treatments under the name “Shiwayo.” Shiwayo is a combination of shiatsu, yoga and forest (Wald in German). “I always draw from nature and I can only work as a therapist when I have balance myself. So I draw strength from the cold streams of the Bregenzerwald and from the trees of the Bödele area.” There it is again: the tree, the wood. Working with wood and working with people have more in common than one might think at first glance.

“My favourite tree is the Swiss stone pine,” says Wolfgang, “It majestically defies both wind and weather high up in the mountains. Its wood is oily, regulates humidity, and is therefore perfect as a bed frame. Every type of wood has its own special qualities. Working with wood means developing an appreciation for it’s character. I want to honour where it grows and treat it right. That includes harvesting it at the right moon from local forests.”

Time is also an important factor for Johannes. “We all live far too fast, we hardly have time to catch our breath. Yet we could learn from trees and how they live with the seasons and follow the rhythm of nature. I often look at the old panelled ceiling in my farmhouse. It reminds me of how long the wood had to grow, how long it was stored before it could be fitted. Our ancestors knew all this and the wood recounts the story at its own pace. We just have to learn to listen.”

Author: Carina Jielg
Issue: Bregenzerwald Travel Magazine – Summer 2021