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TreeHorn Design

TreeHorn Design

Joe Chester's workshop sounds like a kind of medieval paradise.

“If I need something welded I go and see the blacksmith, or if I need finishing advice there is a guy who does that too,” says Joe.

It's a co-op in the dodgy part of Richmond in Melbourne and aside from a big panel saw, the guys say they have everything they need.

“Give me another year and I'll be happy for the workshop to be in a photo shoot under the banner: 'World's Most Awesome Place to Work.'”

There's something immensely cheering about talking to a guy who knows he's on a good wicket.
  Joe Chester is the man behind TreeHorn Design and his wooden jewellery and Tasmanian Oak serving boards have, among other things, made him something of a hit.

His immaculately hand cut, shaved and painted work is at once completely new and immediately familiar – the kind of thing your mother might have been given in her thirties that just never went out of fashion.

They're so freakishly classic and collectible that it seems nuts to think that Joe's natural talent (and it's all natural, he dropped out of his furniture design course at RMIT and went travelling instead) might never have been discovered.

After stints in Finland, Montreal and the States, Joe brought his father's old carpentry tools from his home state of Tasmania to his new home in Melbourne.  

One day he carved a multi-faceted, hand painted wooden pendant necklace for his then girlfriend.  Because she liked it, he made more of them and eventually took them to a design store in North Melbourne. That was 2011 and he hasn't stopped making them since.

Joe may be using the materials (and words) du jour: 'recycled and sustainably grown timber', but he's certainly not just riding the bandwagon. 

“I use small pieces of recycled timber that would otherwise become firewood or landfill,” says Joe.

“The thing with recycled timber is I feel it's important to get out of the way of people who are using it for larger furniture or architecture, they can get more out of it than I can.”

And he sure gets a lot out of it. Joe says his design process is a mix of “sketches, mistakes, prototypes, letting them gather dust for months, churning them though my mind endlessly, mockups, considering different techniques, and so on and so on...”

Each one of his serving boards comes into at least an hour of human contact while it's shaped, painted and finished. He says that they're equally loved and hated by the time they leave the workshop – but you wouldn't know it. Aqua, bright orange, or turquoise – each design captures Joe's addictive joviality.

“Clean, simple, crafted, playful... that's what I'm going for anyway.”

Definitely no hate there.