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Zimmermann Herbert Brunner (c) Peter Rigaud

What a great material

Working with wood has a long tradition in Vorarlberg

The art of building with wood

The region’s cabinetmakers and carpenters are renowned for their great skill and resourcefulness in how they work with the most beautiful building material for old and new structures.


Wood is one of the rich and continuously renewable resources that Vorarlberg has to offer. A valuable material that is used in many entirely different ways and which has made the region famous for the original and creative use of the material in design and architecture. It is possible to erect a multi-storey building from wood – or produce a finely crafted piece of furniture from it. That tradespeople always encounter architects and designers on an equal footing is standard practice for such businesses as the Mohr carpenter’s workshop in Andelsbuch and the Lot timber construction company in Feldkirch. The exciting question of
what it is possible to achieve with wood is the essence of every job. Whether it relates to an elaborate ceiling structure or a minimalist mountain chapel.

“The first generation of innovative architects challenged and motivated us,” says Herbert Brunner, CEO at the Lot timber construction company. “I was always fascinated by these avant-garde architects.” At the time, it was young carpentry firms such as the Lot timber construction company that were curious enough to realise the architects’ often radical visions, such as the “wooden box”, a residential building that is both entirely minimalist and functional. The close and creative cooperation between architects and tradespeople in Vorarlberg has long since become a distinguishing feature and sign of quality. From cellars built entirely from wood to wooden bathtubs – anything is possible.

The realisation of our high demands is what is important. And those are often to be found in the detail.

Anton Mohr, boss of the Mohr carpenter’s workshop in Andelsbuch
Anton Mohr Werkstatt Andelsbuch (c) Peter Rigaud
Holzverbindung Schublade (c) Peter Rigaud

Enduring quality is not least due to the joints that hold the drawers, cupboards and chairs together

The importance of openness and curiosity, even when you’re continuously coming up against the formal and technical limits of carpentry and cabinet-making, is something that Brunner passes on to his young workers. His team includes execution planners, foremen, skilled workers and apprentices who study the designs with the architects, who are on site and building houses there or are in the workshop working on timber elements for later use in construction.

Anton Mohr also trains young talent in his workshop. He regularly receives inquiries from other federal states but also from young people in Germany who want to learn their trade from him. “The best thing about carpentry and cabinet-making is that you can see the finished product in just a few days.” Time always plays a crucial role. It may take 20 hours to build a chest of drawers but it could also take 200 depending on the required detail.

The demands made on a bedside table may be transferred to the dimensions of a building

While speed is of the essence in companies concerned with mass production, such companies as Mohr opt for either speed or deliberation, depending on what the project at hand requires. Such details as clean joints and perfect terminations on beds or chairs are important because a perfectly constructed drawer will not start sticking a little after a year but perhaps after 100 years. “New ideas and possibilities emerge from the lively dialogue with the woods and methods of working with them in conjunction with tried-and-tested know-how,” says Mohr. “This is what we understand applied design to be.” High-tech meets handcrafted.

Herbert Brunner and his team were responsible for the construction of a wellness area for Hotel Bergkristall in Oberlech. It was to be a warm interior made from finely worked silver fir paired with cleverly installed indirect lighting. Where jobs like this are concerned, Brunner generally works like a cabinet-maker but in the dimensions of a carpenter and with the intention of approaching the project as if it were a giant piece of furniture.

Zimmermann Dach (c) Peter Rigaud

Carpenters, e.g. at the Lot timber construction company, either make construction elements in the workshop or work on building sites

Everything that can be made from wood is realised in Anton Mohr’s workshop

Mohr and his staff design their collections themselves, but they do also work with designers and architects. Everything that can be made from wood is realised in his workshop: from sideboards to lecterns through to kitchens. “The challenge is to return again and again to the task of solving difficult details, both formally and functionally.”