• 5 questions with Joe Cooke

head of design at mahabis footwear


 

 Joe Cooke 27 on;

leading the design of mahabis at 23

creating space for new experiences

and making the most of his time in London


 


Joe Cooke MahabisQUESTION ONE How did you realise that designing footwear for others brands wasn’t the right career path for you?

 

Everyday issues frustrate me, so I wanted to design products in order to make lives easier. 

I was lucky enough to experience working for a large sportswear brand early on in my career. That's when I realised I was surrounded by creative people making hundreds of beautiful products -- but all for the exact same purpose; to encourage people to do more, to be more productive, to run faster - but not to make life easier. It just didn’t really fit with me. 

Looking back, that experience laid the foundations for making me want to live a more fulfilling life and to contribute to actually improving peoples' lives. 

 

 

 






 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

QUESTION TWO  And that's when you decided to move into the slipper world and create mahabis? 

 

I was looking at startups in London and stumbled upon a brand new footwear company with a unique business model. So I got in touch with the to-be founder to find out more. 

It became clear to me then that there wasn’t an existing slipper brand that really valued product design. It was then that I realised this was a meaningful problem to solve; we could create an entire new category of footwear. 

My challenge was to take early concepts and turn these into the ultimate slipper. So I spent time traveling Europe searching for experts in footwear manufacturing. We wanted to find the most talented technicians, the best materials, and pioneering engineers that would help us create the world’s best slipper. 

It was challenging, but as we were just perfecting one product I could focus on every single detail, and get it 100% right.

That was how the mahabis we sell today started to take shape.







QUESTION THREE you came up with some creative additions to the classic slipper. How do you find this creativity?
  

It’s often said that creating space to switch off allows your most creative ideas appear organically –  and I find this to be true for me as when I trust myself to stop looking, that’s when my most creative ideas appear.

But it can be really hard to create that space. That’s partly why mahabis exists to help people stop and just be. 

I also think that being creative is a product of who we are and the things we’ve experienced. So it’s important to make time for ourselves, new experiences and the things we already love doing.

When I’m making a conscious effort to create space, I like to make art and go to concerts or lectures. I admit there are times when I don’t prioritise any of these things. However I’ve realised that it’s these things that inspire me, and that they’re in my toolbox to pull out whenever I don’t feel so creative

 

 



QUESTION FOUR When not working or using your creative tools, how do you make the most of your free time?


Like a lot of others living in London, there's this pressure to make the most of your free time. A pressure to cram our lives full of activity, making it hard to relax.

But I also think it’s important
not to make the most of free time  or rather to redefine what “making the most of” means. Doing nothing might actually be the best use of your time.


I am not always disciplined with this though and I do love taking advantage of all the culture and experiences that London has to offer; art galleries, concerts, pop up stores, good food and bars. Or I’ll play sport, research new ideas, see what’s going on in the world, where to travel to next and of course, work out how to become a rapper.


I also like checking out James Turrell’s exhibitions who creates art with light space. He says one of the concepts behind his installations is that when there’s nothing to look at, you can only look back at yourself. I admire anyone trying to make you feel a certain way; it’s not always about creating a physical product.






 

QUESTION FIVE What’s some advice you’d give people starting out in their careers? 

Take the time to stop, step back, and question the path that you’re encouraged to take. Try to make any impact you can and ideally, make sure it’s fun along the way.

 

 


 

5 bonus quickfire questions 

1. How many pairs of shoes do you own? 
(long pause) Eight?  

 

2. The award you’d most like to win is:
What awards do rappers win? A Grammy?  

 

3. The worst fashion trend you’ve lived through?  
The gilet! I don’t get it. How can you be warm when your arms are cold. When I see people wearing them I know they’re wishing their gilet had arms.

 

4. The product you most wish you designed?
The gilet.

 

5. Is there such thing as an original thought?
Yes. But they’re usually the ones you think you are stupid for thinking, and you ignore.

 



5 questions with Joe Cooke

head of design at mahabis footwear


 

 Joe Cooke 27 on;

leading the design of mahabis at 23

creating space for new experiences

and making the most of his time in London


 


Joe Cooke MahabisQUESTION ONE How did you realise that designing footwear for others brands wasn’t the right career path for you?

 

Everyday issues frustrate me, so I wanted to design products in order to make lives easier. 

I was lucky enough to experience working for a large sportswear brand early on in my career. That's when I realised I was surrounded by creative people making hundreds of beautiful products -- but all for the exact same purpose; to encourage people to do more, to be more productive, to run faster - but not to make life easier. It just didn’t really fit with me. 

Looking back, that experience laid the foundations for making me want to live a more fulfilling life and to contribute to actually improving peoples' lives. 

 

 

 






 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

QUESTION TWO  And that's when you decided to move into the slipper world and create mahabis? 

 

I was looking at startups in London and stumbled upon a brand new footwear company with a unique business model. So I got in touch with the to-be founder to find out more. 

It became clear to me then that there wasn’t an existing slipper brand that really valued product design. It was then that I realised this was a meaningful problem to solve; we could create an entire new category of footwear. 

My challenge was to take early concepts and turn these into the ultimate slipper. So I spent time traveling Europe searching for experts in footwear manufacturing. We wanted to find the most talented technicians, the best materials, and pioneering engineers that would help us create the world’s best slipper. 

It was challenging, but as we were just perfecting one product I could focus on every single detail, and get it 100% right.

That was how the mahabis we sell today started to take shape.







QUESTION THREE you came up with some creative additions to the classic slipper. How do you find this creativity?
  

It’s often said that creating space to switch off allows your most creative ideas appear organically –  and I find this to be true for me as when I trust myself to stop looking, that’s when my most creative ideas appear.

But it can be really hard to create that space. That’s partly why mahabis exists to help people stop and just be. 

I also think that being creative is a product of who we are and the things we’ve experienced. So it’s important to make time for ourselves, new experiences and the things we already love doing.

When I’m making a conscious effort to create space, I like to make art and go to concerts or lectures. I admit there are times when I don’t prioritise any of these things. However I’ve realised that it’s these things that inspire me, and that they’re in my toolbox to pull out whenever I don’t feel so creative

 

 



QUESTION FOUR When not working or using your creative tools, how do you make the most of your free time?


Like a lot of others living in London, there's this pressure to make the most of your free time. A pressure to cram our lives full of activity, making it hard to relax.

But I also think it’s important
not to make the most of free time  or rather to redefine what “making the most of” means. Doing nothing might actually be the best use of your time.


I am not always disciplined with this though and I do love taking advantage of all the culture and experiences that London has to offer; art galleries, concerts, pop up stores, good food and bars. Or I’ll play sport, research new ideas, see what’s going on in the world, where to travel to next and of course, work out how to become a rapper.


I also like checking out James Turrell’s exhibitions who creates art with light space. He says one of the concepts behind his installations is that when there’s nothing to look at, you can only look back at yourself. I admire anyone trying to make you feel a certain way; it’s not always about creating a physical product.






 

QUESTION FIVE What’s some advice you’d give people starting out in their careers? 

Take the time to stop, step back, and question the path that you’re encouraged to take. Try to make any impact you can and ideally, make sure it’s fun along the way.

 

 


 

5 bonus quickfire questions 

1. How many pairs of shoes do you own? 
(long pause) Eight?  

 

2. The award you’d most like to win is:
What awards do rappers win? A Grammy?  

 

3. The worst fashion trend you’ve lived through?  
The gilet! I don’t get it. How can you be warm when your arms are cold. When I see people wearing them I know they’re wishing their gilet had arms.

 

4. The product you most wish you designed?
The gilet.

 

5. Is there such thing as an original thought?
Yes. But they’re usually the ones you think you are stupid for thinking, and you ignore.

 



  • Author avatar
    Candace Hill