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Treehorn Design


9th October, 2012
Lucy Feagins
Tuesday 9th October 2012

Timber serving platters by Joe Chester of Treehorn design.  Photo - Lucy Feagins

 Treehorn Design studio details.  Photo - Lucy Feagins

Joe Chester of Treehorn design.  Photo - Lucy Feagins

More Tasmanian goodness today.  Joe Chester is another Tassie-born, Melbourne-based designer, and is the man behind Treehorn Design.  Under this label Joe creates handcrafted timber homewares and accessories from his backyard studio in Richmond. I LOVE his timber serving platters with their brightly painted edges - and they're really reasonably priced too.

For what is essentially a one-man operation, Joe has a seriously impressive list of stockists - over 40 Australia-wide and counting!  Joe also has a well stocked online shop.  (We'll also be stocking his serving platters this year's Open House!)

I paid Joe a visit a couple of weeks back to learn a little more about his growing business -

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to launch Treehorn Design?

I started while I was working as the 'manager' of a burger bar in North Melbourne, I was wasting my life, but having a pretty good time doing it.  I was always looking for the next thing, and thought about becoming a builder, but the environment wasn't for me, so instead I went to signwriting school. I really enjoyed it, though couldn't envisage myself completing an apprenticeship in my thirties, so held onto to my burgershop role and in the process began to collect the tools of the trade which I now use daily!

I'd experimented with a few designs, and things got serious when I went to visit Zan at Kids in Berlin. I made up some faceted pendants, she took some, and before I knew it she'd called again to get some more. That was July 2011 and things have grown like crazy.

Treehorn Design has an impressive environmental ethos, and is committed to using reclaimed and recycled materials - why is this important to you and where do you source your timber?

I guess I get that from my roots in Tasmania. It's also economical to get material for free or cheap. For me half the fun of what I do is making these materials shine.

I really enjoy using timber and adding as much value to it as I can. Sourcing it can be as much fun as designing with it. My design process is very interwoven with materials, and there can be a lot of back and forth.

What's next for you?

I'm currently doing a bar fit-out for a French cafe called Bric-a-brack, that the good people of Thornbury should check out in November. I'd also love to do a branch out into furniture down the line too.

Treehorn Design studio. Photo - Lucy Feagins

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email