Hi Laura, please tell everyone a bit about yourself and introduce your brand.
Hey everyone! I’m Laura, the designer and maker behind my brand, Fernweh UK. I create rugged, handcrafted bags and accessories, inspired by my own passion for adventure.
I started Fernweh back in 2014 when I started making climbing chalk bags for myself and my friends at my local climbing gym. Word of mouth spread and Fernweh grew arms and legs from there, and alongside chalk bags I make hats, backpacks, tote bags and lots of other accessories. I’m inspired by the natural world, mostly by the gorgeous landscapes we have here in Scotland, and I like to think my work brings a little bit of adventure into everyday life.
I’m a keen rock climber and hill walker and love being outdoors, surrounded by wilderness. I love the sense of connection to nature you get when there is nothing but forests and mountains as far as the eye can see.
How would you describe your style and where do you take inspiration from?
I would say my work has a rugged, yet modern aesthetic. I’m really passionate about creating high quality products with a focus on sustainability. I use traditional and natural materials such as waxed canvas, leather and wool’s which are durable and look amazing. They also have a lovely tactile element to them and cared for properly will last a lifetime.
I mostly take my inspiration from Scotland, but mainly around the North East coast and the Cairngorms. I don’t drive but these places are still accessible via public transport or bicycle and are a font of inspiration. I love the drama and the colour palette of the Aberdeenshire to Moray coastline, and I love the history of Royal Deeside and the Cairngorm plateau.
Where do you like to create your work?
I worked from home for five years from my spare bedroom, but I was lucky enough to move into my own studio space at Deemouth Artist Studios in Aberdeen at the end of last year. Its a wonderful creative space that I can’t wait to get back to after lockdown and there’s a great bunch of talented creatives on my floor, its a lovely little community!
Its also right by the harbour, so I can head up by the coast and watch dolphins on a sunny day!
Can you tell us a bit about the process behind creating your gorgeous waxed canvas bags?
I create all my bags in my studio from start to finish! Once I’ve finalised a design, I create the pattern for it, which is my favourite part of making – besides sewing! I love the process of figuring out how to turn a flat 2D drawing into a 3D shape.
Once the pattern is made and the fabric is cut out, I sew it all together on my industrial lockstitch machine, before adding any leather straps. I take great pride in having a high attention to detail, making sure each stitch is perfect, even if nobody else will notice!
Can you tell us more about the materials you use and where you like to source them?
Of course! The waxed canvas I use now is the highest quality I’ve managed to source since I started making, and its made right here in Scotland!
There’s an incredible factory in Dundee that’s been making waxed canvas for over 150 years and produce waxed canvas for huge companies. I love using waxed canvas, as it was developed by Scottish fishermen as early as the 15th century as a way of waterproofing their sails, so its got that lovely heritage element but its also a fantastic material, durable, water resistant. As its used, it takes on its own marks and creases, which is almost like a visual representation of all the adventures its been on.
Can you tell us a bit about the area you live/work in?
I live and work in Aberdeen, the Granite City! I really love being in Aberdeen, the city itself has incredible history but its also so close to the Highlands. I also really enjoy that we are a coastal city, the beaches are fantastic. During lockdown I am working from home which is out near the airport, but still close to the River Don which has some lovely views and loads of wildlife, a Pictish stone symbol was found in the river a year or so ago!
What would you recommend doing/seeing in your area to someone visiting?
If you are in the Aberdeenshire area, I would recommend a visit to Dunottar Castle in Stonehaven, or New Slains Castle in Newburgh. Both are incredible ruined castles on the coastal cliffs and have such interesting history alongside spectacular views.
New Slains Castle is even said to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Are you working on any new products at the moment?
I am actually working on a new collection right now! It was meant to be released in April but was delayed due to the pandemic. I’m volunteering to make scrubs right now for the NHS but I’m still trying to work on new pieces in my spare time.
Its a new collection of chalk bags, backpacks, tote bags and other accessories inspired by the Cairngorm Plateau and one of my favourite books, The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd. I am really inspired by the way Shepherd writes about the Cairngorms, its just a beautiful piece of writing and really encompasses the way that nature can take over all of your senses.
Can you pick out 4 or 5 things in your working space that you can’t live without?
My coffee cup!
I always need a wee caffeine pick me up after a good morning of sewing!
I’m really scatter brained a lot of the time, so I live in my planner so I can keep myself right and know whats going on on that day.
My Lockstitch machine
My industrial sewing machine is what I use to sew all my items, and I don’t know what I would do without it! Its a great piece of equipment.
I really love having a creative space as it lets me decorate it in ways I find inspiring. I love being able to have lots of studio plants and have a wee bit of the outdoors with me.
My studio slippers
I find it impossible to sew with shoes on, so I have a cosy pair of fluffy socks I wander around the studio in,I just have to watch out for stray pins!
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOUR WORK?