As a graduate engineer in mechanical engineering, Harald Quast had a creative profession – but that was not enough for him. He wanted even more creativity, more individuality and above all he wanted to fulfil a professional dream: handmade stone furniture. Wohnstein is the name of his heart’s desire – and this is based above all on regional flair and quality. “We want to strengthen the local craftsmanship,” says the 30-year-old. Quast explains that many other furniture items on the mass market are produced in foreign countries under questionable working conditions. Our materials, on the other hand, are all mined or processed around Würzburg, Germany – and everything we buy comes from small artisan businesses. Equally unusual is the production itself, because all of his stone furniture is produced in loving handwork and craftsmanship. He doesn’t mind that it takes a lot of time, effort and expensive machines. Harald Quast has always been on the lookout for creative challenges – and has finally found the biggest with his own designer label.
When the prospective mechanical engineering student left his hometown in 2007, he had no idea that he would soon have the brilliant idea for his own company. Bored by industrially mass-produced furniture, he went looking for a suitable bed for his new home. As a student, “I couldn’t afford anything that was beautiful in my eyes,” he recalls. “Can you actually make a bed out of stone?”, he asked his friend, who had a quarry and the machines for such a project. “He didn’t know either and that’s just why we tried,” says Quast, grinning. A few sketches and weeks later it was born: the world’s first stone bed. Inspired by this success, the passionate craftsman continued to build. Tables, bedside cabinets and numerous other furniture variations joined the collection – and became the basis for “Wohnstein”.
Harald Quast reveals the secret behind Wohnstein’s quality work in his workshop: Gigantic machines and workbenches stand in the huge hall – of course in oversized dimensions. After the Franconian shell limestone has been mined in the quarry and transported to the workshop, the 30-year-old places the stone chunks on a huge saw. In a process that lasts for hours, it cuts the material into different strips, whereby water sprinklers help to bind dirt and swirling dust and thus achieve a precise result. When this is done, the work is then done by hand: the corners of the individual parts are rounded by using a grinding machine to make them more robust. Harald now joins the individual components together with special two-component glue. Once the support structure and hinges are attached, the bed can be put together – the unique piece is ready.
Anyone who has ever founded their own company and had to fight against all odds knows that nothing is given to you.
Despite some hurdles that self-employed life can bring, Harald Quast never loses the desire for his work. “Anyone who has ever founded their own company and had to fight against all odds knows that nothing is given to you,” admits the young businessman. My company challenges me in many respects: “I can pursue a creative career, be active in craftsmanship, work with gigantic machines and have to assert myself in business life. This mixture makes it exciting and interesting every day of the week.” This commitment also inspires his customers, who can order each piece of furniture individually and tailored to their own personal wishes.
Harald Quast uses Franconian shell limestone for his furniture – a stone whose history even exceeds that of mankind. This material is over 200 million years old and is now finding its way into furniture full of grace and elegance. Glass and wood are also used by the innovative artist to underline the intricate aspects of his design collection. This unique combination makes each of the finished pieces unique. So far, there have not been any difficulties in transporting the desired items. “All furniture pieces can be dismantled into individual parts,” explains Quast. “They will then weigh a maximum of 40 kilos – a weight that is easy to move with two people.” He describes his furniture as unique and exclusive – and so are his customers. “He who buys a stone bed,” he smiles,“ must be as special as the bed itself.”