I don’t know a single person who doesn’t own something from the Joseph Joseph brand. That probably says an awful lot about my circle being a) terribly middle class, b) a lot of them being design geeks and c) people who cook. I’m sure I’ll get people saying “Nope, not me” now but certainly most of the people I’ve cooked and eaten with in my life will respond with “I love my Joseph Joseph garlic crusher/chopping board/dish rack!”
Almost all of Joseph Joseph’s products are available from other brands, for much less money. In that sense their offering is not unique. The kind of products that are so mass produced that their forms are iconic, and more or less the same wherever you buy them. I imagine that they’re actually all made in the same factory irrespective of the “brand” attached to them, much like rich tea biscuits (true fact, told to me by a “biscuit engineer” from McVities).
Joseph Joseph was founded by twin brothers Richard and Antony Joseph in 2003. Antony studied Product Design at Central St Martins in London, and Richard studied Business at Cambridge, so the formation of design company was a natural one. A chopping board that folds to make it easier to pour things into a pan was their first product. Joseph Joseph products are first and foremost made to work effectively. They’ve taken many everyday objects and reassessed them, pushing their design beyond the iconic form, with the aim of producing something that does the same job, but better. This for me is a key aspect of design innovation. Not to invent something new, but to reinvent things that are familiar. To take something everybody has accepted and improve it in a way that nobody else could see was necessary.
That was what led me to buy my Joseph Joseph colander. I didn’t own a colander when I moved into my own place, and having recently seen the foot fall off Mr. E’s colander in London I wasn’t about to buy a metal one. The vast majority metal colanders are spot welded, no matter the cost, and frankly it’s not a particularly good way to join two bits of metal together. Heavy duty, dark grey plastic, and shaped so there isn’t a flat bit at the bottom that won’t drain, I use my Joseph Joseph colander almost every day. Even now almost three years later that basic piece of kitchen equipment looks as good and works as well as the day I bought it.
But why is this important? Why does it matter? Why am I waxing lyrical about a colander?
Because if we choose one good thing, that lasts and works really well, it diminishes the need to buy more things, or to have the latest thing. If the thing brings us joy, every time we use it, there is no “upgrade.” The end point of that stance is, ultimately, we need less stuff. And in our over saturated world of things that can only be a good thing.
Choose well, choose once.