Charne is the co-founder of Fyrn, a San Francisco-based brand that’s aiming to make high-quality furniture more accessible and change the way people value the objects they buy for their homes.
“While we may not personally meet every customer, we want to create furniture that forces people to slow down and inspires curiosity about how an object was made,” says Charne.
Fyrn began the development of its patented Stemn System in 2012, and the business was launched in late 2016 by founders Charne and Ros Broughton — a 4th generation craftsman whose family has been designing and making furniture since the early 1900s.
Broughton grew up learning about the challenges of furniture production, distribution, and repair, and this experience helped him to create the Stemn System that sits at the heart of everything Fyrn makes.
The system was developed through years of R&D and testing in high-traffic commercial environments. It consists of durable, fully replaceable parts and pieces that enable furniture to be produced sustainably with minimal waste. The system creates strength at the joints where other furniture fails most, allows the furniture to ship flat, and facilitates easy service and repair into perpetuity.
Fyrn’s focus on sustainability is a direct response to the cheap offshore manufacturing that leads to disposable products, creating over 12 Billion tons of furniture and furnishings being sent to landfills each year.
“We are really leaning into creating a Planet-First Design movement,” says Charne. “Designing everything we make to have the capacity to last forever.”
This means simple, straightforward products that are easy to service and repair. It means having a space to support resale and giving customers the tools needed to ensure their products stay in use, even if they don't want them anymore. “It means giving the furniture a story rich enough to instill value that lasts beyond us,” adds Charne.
“We believe that if you know the story of a chair’s origin and you live with it for decades, then it begins to hold a value that is greater than the chair itself and that’s something that can be passed on and shared with future generations,” he continues.
Fyrn uses simple, natural materials in the production of its furniture. Primarily relying on North American hardwoods, anodized aluminum, and steel components all sourced domestically. No particle board, vinyl, or plastics. “Making things that last with quality materials is inherently sustainable. If you aren’t replacing items on a regular basis then you are using fewer resources,” says Charne.
"Making things that last with quality materials is inherently sustainable. If you aren’t replacing items on a regular basis then you are using fewer resources."
Charne also shares that Fyrn’s furniture isn’t precious, “it’s a tool for your home,” he remarks. “And despite being well made, it may even break. So we believe the highest form of sustainability in a product or a piece of furniture, is to design it for easy repair when needed.”
To further extend the life of its furniture Fyrn has also piloted a series of programs that create an ecosystem for its products to be fully circular. This includes a Buyback program for all of its standard furniture and The Fyrn Exchange where customers can list their furniture for sale to others in their community.
“Our long-term intention is to preserve and tell the story of each object, the history of who owned it and where it lived prior to the resale, and let that history become another layer and part of why the piece would be interesting for the next owner buying it on the Exchange,” says Charne.
Based in the heart of the Mission district of San Francisco, Fyrn has embedded itself as a key part of the community and helped to furnish many restaurants and commercial spaces.
“World-class chefs that we have admired for years are now filling their beautiful restaurants with our furniture,” Charne shares. “And it's hard to name a well-known technology company that hasn't tapped Fyrn for the feeling of residential comfort in their offices.” Fyrn lists Slack, Twitch, Discord, Dropbox, Google, Adobe, and many more as customers.
Its open-front studio inspires curiosity from passersby who can see Fyrn’s furniture being crafted in plain sight. “It gives us a chance to meet many of our customers in person too, which is awesome,” adds Charne. And local artists have brought Fyrn’s story to life through murals, illustrations, screenprinting, and letterpress across its studio walls, packaging, and collateral.
While Fyrn’s heart and soul will always be in the Bay Area, it’s now seeing growth in the direct-to-consumer space, and its pieces are increasingly distributed across the country.
“Our mission is to create thoughtful, enduring objects that improve people's lives and become a part of their story."
Fyrn is also developing new product ranges focused on the home. “Our mission is to create thoughtful, enduring objects that improve people's lives and become a part of their story,” says Charne. “As we expand the assortment this year, we are really looking forward to the opportunity for Fyrn to be in a lot more well-designed homes.”