Our History

Authentic Florida Mid-Century Roots

Joseph’s Driftwood
product label c.1960

My father, Joseph Senior, had a lifetime of documented, successful, and innovative talents, among them mechanical engineer, stock car driver, restauranteur, home builder, baby furniture designer, pilot and WWII flight instructor. His final business, “Joseph’s Driftwood” was based in Dania, Florida from the 1950s until 1975.

Joseph Jr. harvesting at high tide in Card Sound,
North Key Largo c.1968

He established showroom locations in cities including Cherry Hill NJ, New York NY, Columbus Ohio, Paramus NJ, Saint Louis MO, Jacksonville FL, Chicago IL, and Laguna Beach CA, with custom installations throughout the East Coast and Midwest.

His business was founded on harvesting semi-petrified mahogany, buttonwood, and black mango roots found only in the Upper Keys of South Florida. This harvest saved the millennia-old roots from destruction and waste as developers prepared the ground for human occupation. Although this wood is commonly called “driftwood,” it does not float or drift and it never will … it sinks. Buried beneath the long-expired coral islands of the Florida Keys, it was tempered by daily cycles of high tides and drying in the tropical sun for hundreds and even thousands of years, making it impervious to wood-destroying pests. He developed an innovative process that restored these fossilized roots to the natural rich color of the ancient living wood. He was the only one out of all his competitors to formulate a sealer that preserved the wood’s natural color. He transformed these pieces into artistic decor, specializing in unique, and functional pieces of furniture.

Joseph Jr. 2022

I am Joseph Junior. I learned everything about the business and participated in every phase needed to create each piece. I worked with the driftwood almost every day since I was 8 years old. When my father died suddenly, I completed the contracts destined for the above-mentioned cities. I have stored the remaining wood for nearly 50 years, knowing the day would come when I would continue, and complete the Joseph’s Driftwood legacy. That time has come.

After a career spanning architecture, design, construction, custom tile work, and as a graduate of the University of Michigan, I have the knowledge and the ability to create timeless pieces with this precious semi-petrified root that can “last forever” whether it is used indoors or outdoors.

I have plans to use some alternate finishes that were not available during my father’s career. The wood I am using is from my father’s original harvests and can be dated as much as 1500 years old. There is a finite amount of this wood. My mission is to, in my father’s tradition, create uses that complement each piece. Joseph Senior’s motto was, “Let Joseph finish what Mother Nature started.” My ambition with Legendary Driftwood is the same, and I’m also proud to admit that some of that ambition is to bring closure and honor to my father’s legacy.