“I didn’t like the way they taught,” he recalls. “It didn’t really agree with my way of understanding design. It was very industrial design and I would find it quite boring. You sit there and sketch the whole time without interrogating function or anything really, anything that is somewhat cerebral in terms of design.”
After finishing at Wits Tech with what he describes on his website as excelling in the subject of "computer literacy", he did what all freshly minted young adults do, go into the work place to figure out what he was going to do with his life. He figured out very quickly that typical industrial design work wasn’t it — to this day the very mention of plastic injection molding makes his face contort a little. However, in his spare time, he and a friend from university days, other local design hero and half of Dokter and Misses, Adriaan Hugo, were playing around making various products together and it was this play that sparked the beginning of what Joe does today; making furniture with more accessible design using accessible processes.
“We made a few things, not very many, a table and a light and something like that. But for me it was like, this is it, you can actually do whatever you want, this is an infinite universe.”
Part of his universe would go on to become quite green as he found what he calls a “semi-niche” in planters. In between his custom design work and fascination with tables he spent years investigating the world of plant vessels and successfully created the Design Indaba's “Most Beautiful Object in South Africa” nominated Forrester Hanging Planter, the Tower Planter and his more recent collaborative work with Lemon Studio, The Standing Living Wall.