“I really enjoy creating awareness, admiration and respect for the Cape Flora and Fauna through beautiful and elegant functional art that reaches a wide audience." – Dr Michelle Jooste, PhD-graduate in Botany (2019)
Dr Michelle Jooste completed her PhD in Botany at Stellenbosch University in January 2019. She is the founder and director of CoralBloom Studio, where she works as a textile and product designer, as well as running the production and business side of things. CoralBloom Studio specializes in "fynbos-inspired functional art", incorporating original artworks of indigenous flora and fauna in a range of quality homeware, décor and accessories – all sustainably and eco-friendly, made with natural textiles.
Michelle's work is a balance of practical and computer-based work – doing product designs, liaising and meeting with clients and shop owners, developing new concepts and ranges. “I use an array of specialised digital editing software to do product design, product mock-ups and seamless pattern designs for textiles," she explains.
“We work as a family-run team. My mother and sister, both self-taught artists, contribute the original naturalist paintings fusing traditional and modernist watercolour designs. It is my role to translate the original artworks into product designs, facilitate textile printing and production and managing sales.
“Our hope and vision for the CoralBloom Studio range has always been to captivate a wide audience and make them fall in love with the natural beauty of our country!" says Michelle. “I really enjoy creating awareness, admiration and respect for the Cape Flora and Fauna through beautiful and elegant functional art that reaches a wide audience. We have recently collaborated with the Endangered Wildlife Trust to design and make a functional art range for SANParks. Among others, we are also collaborating with @home on a special project that will launch in September 2022."
Michelle credits her time at SU for teaching her critical thinking skills, problem-solving, attention to detail and how to deal with challenges in a systematic approach. Despite having moved away from research science into a more creative direction, the experiences of presenting research, public speaking, writing papers and working with supervisors and student colleagues gave her a variety of transferrable skills.
Michelle advises students to try to find a career that combines both their interest and natural talents. She adds: “I have also learnt not to be afraid of radical changes or thinking out of the box. This way of thinking has taken me on a very exciting and fulfilling career path!"
This BSc-alumnus profile is part of the Faculty of Science's #100CareersinScience project. E-mail us at email@example.com if you want to share your career journey with current students.
Photo: Michelle Jooste: Photo supplied