The workshop of Christchurch based lighting brand; Joska + Sons is exactly that….a space packed with tools and machinery both in use and stored, prototypes, screws, packaging, bikes, patched walls and wood with not a pot plant to be seen! 31 year old Joska Easterbrook is in the business of making exceptionally awesome lighting not curating a dreamy studio!
I invite you to read the story of the long way round that Joska took to discover/uncover his passion and skill for making. Its a great one for those of you still on the hunt for what makes your heart strings ping!
The product of two super creative parents with strong interests in photography, art, music and interiors, Joska attended to a Rudolf Steiner school from start to finish. He relished “making” things and in his final year he made a range of lights out of scrap metal…in hindsight this was a telling project!
With no strong idea of what he wanted to do yet, on leaving school he became a nanny which he did for 3 years straight. At 22 he then skipped the country for London and helped kiwi; James Gurnsey set up popular Soho cafe; Flat White. He continued on his travels in Europe and after 2 years returned home and back to Christchurch – at 24 still on the search for a career path.
Spurred on by his love for making things with his hands, he enrolled in a building course but left it after a year. Next he tried painting but lasted just 6 months. The tradies culture just wasn’t for him.
So it was back to hospitality, this time in the small hill and harbourside suburb of Lyttelton. Joska’s previous employer James Guernsey was also back in town and he joined his team at the Lyttelton Coffee Company where he worked for 3 years.
Then life changed immensely.
The February 2011 earthquake bowled violently through Christchurch rendering the cafe’s premises unusable. James found a temporary site then in an amazing act – armed his team with equipment and coffee machines and said go for it. Employ yourselves and keep the coffee flowing for the locals!
Joska took on the interior design of the space which he LOVED doing. The project acted as a catalyst and finally he felt a real calling. He designed and made much of the furniture himself and had idea after idea piling up in his mind. Around the same time he visited the local Kingswood Ski factory owned by his friend Alex Herbert and spotted piles of bamboo offcuts, a by-product of ski construction. His mind began to whir….
Inspired by the steady rise of more and more talented young NZ designers he tossed up studying product design, but was reluctant to take on the realities student life in his late twenties. Instead he tapped into his network of talented friends and family and got straight into the making business. His mother had done furniture design over 10 years ago and had invested in a portfolio of tools and machinery. He ploughed into her New Brighton workshop and armed with his bamboo offcuts he began the process of bringing his designs to life.
Inspired by his love of industrial design he then decided to examine movement in his work – drawn to the idea of something that could go from small to big, a scissor effect. An impressive debut lighting range took form and his Lyttelton crew rallied to bring the new and fresh Joska + Sons to life. Friends photographed his lights, designed his logo and took on getting his work out into the media. The development and prototyping of his collection, design and manufacture of it AND the packaging and launch of website took about a year. It was March 2013 it was thrown into the public eye!
When I visited Joska he was just perfecting his second collection of lighting using spun metals and cool, pared back wooden stands and wall mounting. (check it ALL out here!!!)
Despite being homeless due to major earthquake repairs happening on his Lyttleton home and still involved in the running of the cafe part time I found him to be industrious and focused on the next step of his business.
The guy is a busy, unassuming talent that really could be a poster boy for post-quake Christchurch. It was strangely comforting to meet someone who, like me, had taken a longer road to nail down what it was that they could offer AND someone who managed to set off on the right foot using networks, common sense and a practical approach as opposed to the mainstream route of education.
Inspiring I would say!All photography by Julia Atkinson for Studio Home
WHAT I LEARNT FROM JOSKA:
More than often, where our interests lie is where our career is hiding.