Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Architect Visit: Workstead in Cobble Hill


Architect Visit: Workstead in Cobble Hill

January 9, 2012

If we were betting on the next breakout star in design, we’d put some money on Workstead.

The young firm, based in Brooklyn, has a combined background that includes theatre set design, music, and art, along with formal training in architecture at RISD (where the two principals, Robert Highsmith and Stefanie Brechbuehler, met). Workstead recently joined the Remodelista Architect/Design Directory, and we were thrilled to see more of their inspiring interiors, which they design down to the lighting, furniture, and hardware.

The two launched the company in 2009 and have since been joined by right-hand man Ryan Mahoney. Until recently, they worked out of Highsmith and Brechbuehler’s apartment, the parlor floor of an 1880s Brooklyn brownstone in Cobble Hill. “We used it a laboratory, and having the office in our home fostered the way that we think–it’s a more intuitive way of making things,” says Highsmith.

Photography by Matthew Williams (except where noted).

640 workstead 333 2

Above: A dining room ceiling fixture turned into the prototype for the firm’s 3-Arm Industrial Chandelier. “The junction box in the living room ceiling wasn’t centered, which was driving us crazy,” says Highsmith. “We developed this light so it could re-center itself based on what else was going on in the room. It’s super-flexible and reconfigurable–it make sense for people in New York who move from apartment to apartment.”

Architect Visit Workstead in Cobble Hill portrait 4

Above: The mirror once belonged to Highsmith’s grandmother. “We believe in holding on to objects that will last a long time and acquiring things carefully,” he says. “In our designs, we like to use time-tested materials in a slightly more modern way.”

640 workstead 333 4

Above: The bookcases are salvaged built-ins from an old house that was being remodeled.

Architect Visit Workstead in Cobble Hill portrait 6

Above: A nook is lit with a vintage light from Dazor, a venerable American lighting company still in business today. “We are obsessed with these lights–there are four of them in the office,” says Highsmith. “Most of the light comes out the bottom of the shade, but there is a slice that lets a little bit of light out the other side.” The side table is IKEA’s PS Cabinet.

Architect Visit Workstead in Cobble Hill portrait 7

Above: In the living room, a Prouvé Potence light sits above a Workstead floor lamp. The curtains were made from $20 rolls of burlap, weighted by a wooden dowel on the bottom, and hung from plumbing rod hardware (steel pipes and flanges, painted black). “It’s an economical way to do window treatments,” says Highsmith. “They let light in while giving you a bit of screening from the street.”

640 workstead 333 3

Above: Over the piano is a vintage light from O.C. White, another American manufacturer with a long history.

640 workstead 333 kitchen jpeg

Above: The kitchen is tiny but functional; the yellow pot is by Danish designer Jens Quistgaard. Photograph courtesy of Workstead.

Architect Visit Workstead in Cobble Hill portrait 10

Above: A painting by Highsmith’s grandmother, Sammie Skinner, hangs in the master bedroom. The wall light is another vintage Dazor, and the bed covering is a cowhide from IKEA: “The bedroom is between the living room and the dining room, so we did what we could to make the bed look more like a daybed,” says Highsmith.

Architect Visit Workstead in Cobble Hill portrait 11

Above: A series of homemade postcards from friends is displayed over an old secretary that Highsmith rescued from his parents’ attic. The vintage lamp came from the Brimfield antiques market in Massachusetts.

640 workstead 333 6

Above: Before they moved to Brooklyn and got married, Highsmith and Brechbuehler were living on opposite ends of the continent; they sent each other many postcards, hand-drawn and otherwise (the S is from a catalog of Ed Ruscha alphabet paintings). The display now hangs in the dining room. Photograph courtesy of Workstead.

(Visited 384 times, 1 visits today)
You need to login or register to view and manage your bookmarks.

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation