Joel & Alyse Knudson opened Branches Furniture in 2013. Together with their three children (and Buster the dog), they have found their place in Canby, Oregon. Going outside the metro area allowed them to nestle in an acre getaway with all the space they needed to thrust Branches Furniture off the ground.
We spent some time talking with Joel at Branches’ Canby escape; here’s what he had to say about Lynard Skynard, the Corvallis bridge, and the muse of his wife.
1. How would you refer to yourself? Woodworker? Artisan? Craftsman?
Creator and builder.
2. How did you get started?
Building things as a kid. I remember whittling a marshmallow roasting stick, but the first real project was a cutting board in junior high shop class.
3. Why wood?
It’s beautiful, it’s organic, and has personality and warmth. It has a history—I like that it tells a story.
4. What does being creative meant to you?
It allows me to go where my mind takes me. It’s about going places where other people have not gone before—finding new ways to build.
5. Do you have any rituals?
Not really, but I do drink a lot of coffee and listen to music while I work.
6. So what’s playing in the shop then?
Right now it’s Simple Man, by Lynyrd Skynyrd
7. What is your favorite piece?
Whatever I’m currently working on. And I’m proud of the Sampele dining table that built for our home. Really, I’m proud of most of the pieces I’ve built.
8. Who inspires you?
Alyse doesn’t want me to say this, but she inspires me. I wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for her encouragement. But if I had to pick one person who isn’t my wife, I would pick Jory Brigham. He does beautiful, unique work. He’s also created a successful business; his success is an inspiration.
9. What do you hope to communicate through your work?
I don’t know about communicating. I just want to create pieces that last generations. I want them to be unique, affordable, and accessible for most people. I want them to be functional works of art.
10. If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing?
I don’t know. It took me 40 years to find this.
11. What is the ultimate piece you want to create?
I’d like to build a whole house from scratch. It would be everything I want, exactly how I want.
12. What’s your favorite thing about PDX?
The creativeness and entrepreneurial spirit of the area. How everyone respects the environment, it’s inspiring. I don’t think you’ll find such creative environments in other parts of the country; I probably wouldn’t be doing this if I were in Ohio.
13. Favorite bridge?
The covered bridge in Corvallis.
14. Favorite neighborhood?
No favorite, but I love my shop.
15. What’s your favorite tool?
Join Joel and Alyse from Branches Furniture at read:grain, works with reclaimed wood on Friday, April 28th from 4-7pm during Design Week Portland. For more information, go here.