Born 1983, Launceston, Tasmania
Lives and works in Melbourne, Victoria
Growing up in Tasmania, Joe Chester was surrounded by tools and timber. His father taught wood technology, and owned a small homewares business. As an eight year old, Chester snuck into his father’s workshop, switched on the bandsaw, and crafted himself a new handle for his dresser that he’d neglected to tell his parents he’d broken off. In high school he studied as much as he could in design and making. He used the school’s equipment to produce Huon pine soap holders that he sold to several stockists around the state.
He later moved to Melbourne to study at RMIT, but, feeling uninspired by the rigidity of his course, and in fear of unlearning all the skills he had taught himself, he decided to leave. After travelling in Finland and Montreal, Joe returned to Melbourne. He crafted a pendant necklace for a girlfriend, and made a few more to take to a shop in North Melbourne. The shop owner, sceptical at first, soon called back for more stock. From this success, and an urgent desire to earn a living from his creativity, Joe went on to begin TreeHorn Design.
TreeHorn is where Chester makes high quality jewellery and homewares that he hopes people will talk about, wear and enjoy. He ensures his products have a minimal impact on the environment, sourcing offcuts from other manufacturers, and works only with recycled, reclaimed or sustainably grown timber. He uses leftover Tasmanian Oak from the production of his kitchen boards to make his beaded necklace range. Chester prides himself on utilising processes that reduce waste, and that are also cost effective for his business. Growing up surrounded by the Tasmanian forestry debate has given Chester a clear insight into the ethical use of timber. He believes in sourcing responsibly, and has contributed to purchasing parcels of land for conservation, donating regularly to the Wilderness Society, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy.
Today, Chester can be found sneaking into his own shed in the early hours of the morning, with the same determined focus he had 20 years earlier. His drive to craft something meaningful has remained the same as that eight year old boy in his father’s workshop, sanding away day and night.