The Perch by Workstead | Yellowtrace
The Perch.

The Perch by Workstead | Yellowtrace
The Perch.

Union Street by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Union Street.

Union Street by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Union Street.

Union Street by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Union Street.

Drawings by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Drawing by Workstead.

 

Brooklyn based design firm Workstead have been involved in some majorly cool projects since their inception in 2009. The small team is headed by Stefanie Brechbuehler and Robert Highsmith who are both graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design. From their studio locations in Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley, they dive headfirst into a gamut of mediums such as architecture, interiors, furniture and lighting. And boy do they rock it!

There’s a sense of playful nostalgia that exudes from their work which incorporates ornate brass, timber millwork, hardwood panelling, delicate fixings and lush furnishings. They expertly marry old and new by combining rich materials with modern forms. It’s hard not to fall in love with their interior interventions which are beautifully stoic, intricately detailed and highly functional. At the heart of every project Workstead pay close attention to context and approach formal qualities such as scale, materials and function with a fresh perspective.

Before we take a gander, just a friendly warning Yellowtracers: the following images may incite deep design envy. You know the feeling, utter awe and admiration infused with a touch of jealousy of not having done it first! A true sign of talent in my eyes, props to you Workstead!

 

Drawings by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Wythe Hotel sketch by Workstead.

Wythe Hotel by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Wythe Hotel.

Wythe Hotel by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Wythe Hotel.

 

In 2012 Workstead were commissioned to design the common spaces of the acclaimed Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg. The boutique hotel sought to preserve and celebrate the history of the former industrial building and as a result existing brick, paint, beams and columns stand as a reminder of the past.

The communal areas of the hotel ooze a casual luxury but with a vintage twist. The library houses a huge barrister bookcase that is reminiscent of a cabinet of curiosities. The bar is sophisticated and brooding with dark teal walls, leather seats and glistening brass trimmings. Despite darker materials used, light streams through the large steel windows and provides breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline.

 

Related Post: Wythe Hotel | Brooklyn, NYC.

 

Tribeca Loft by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Tribeca Loft by Workstead.

Tribeca Loft by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Tribeca Loft by Workstead.

Tribeca Loft by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Tribeca Loft by Workstead.

State Street by Workstead | Yellowtrace
State Street.

State Street by Workstead | Yellowtrace
State Street.

 

Workstead founders and partners Stefanie and Robert know what it’s like to live in close quarters so when it comes to designing for smaller spaces, they’ve got it in the bag. This apartment on State Street in Brooklyn Heights merges the kitchen, living and dining spaces; linking them through a common language of materials and forms. The kitchen is compact yet efficient and the different forms of timber joinery help to differentiate each space. Bench height storage extends the length of the room and exposed boxes are arranged sculpturally along the wall.

 

47 Plaza by Workstead | Yellowtrace
47 Plaza.

47 Plaza by Workstead | Yellowtrace
47 Plaza.

 

Space and storage were sought after commodities for47 Plaza, a pre-war apartment building in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. All of the original trims, mouldings and walls were painted in a muted French grey tone however pops of timber make this apartment come alive. Storage is cleverly incorporated throughout and cupboard handles emerge from trimmings to form a raised profile. These handles are exquisite; so simple, so clever and I need them in my life – don’t we all?

 

The First Ward by Workstead | Yellowtrace
The First Ward.

The First Ward by Workstead | Yellowtrace
The First Ward.

The First Ward by Workstead | Yellowtrace
The First Ward.

The First Ward by Workstead | Yellowtrace
The First Ward.

 

A sultry past gives way to a fresh new face at the First Ward Salon. Formerly a brothel, this salon in Tulsa, Oklahoma introduces a new interior timber structure to divide the space in a rhythmic and dynamic way. The white stud members appear as an extension of the existing ceiling joists and provide storage within its spacings. Warm walnut and brass permeate through the salon and contrast with the existing wallpaper, plaster and painted brick that have been preserved from the building’s previous use.

 

Boerum Hill House by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Boerum Hill House.

Boerum Hill House by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Boerum Hill House.

 

See what I mean? This is definitely one of those “I wish I designed it” moments. Sure I have envy but I’m mostly giving a resounding e-plause (that’s a virtual applause for those playing at home) for this drop dead gorgeous kitchen. It’s fantastic. The custom wedged handles are carved from beechwood and seem to undulate in the light filled space. The honeyed timber contrasts beautifully with the cool tones of Pietra Cardosa bench top, splashback and shelving.

The renovation of this brownstone in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn plays with the idea of addition and subtraction. Thickness and weight have been added to kitchen cabinetry and a sense of subtractive delicacy is employed for the bookshelf. Since their first project Workstead have teamed up with Brooklyn based woodworker Markus Bartenschlager. On this occasion Bartenschlager was instrumental in creating the wood detailing from early design prototypes to completion.

 

Lighting by Worstead | Yellowtrace

Lighting by Worstead | Yellowtrace

Lighting by Worstead | Yellowtrace

Spool Collection by Worstead | Yellowtrace
Spool Collection.

Spool Collection by Worstead | Yellowtrace
Spool Collection.

 

Workstead are renowned for their lighting and furniture pieces which totally kick ass. Not only do they feature in most of their projects but also the likes of Barneys, Facebook, Levi’s, Google and Yelp. They’ve always had a passion for making and would fashion light fittings and furniture out of repurposed materials. Their lighting range includes pendants, chandeliers, sconces and lamps that are sleek, sculptural and materially rich.

In terms of furniture, a lot of their design is born out of experimentation and problem solving. The majestic credenza and wardrobe echo the kitchen joinery of Boerum Hill House. As standalone pieces the oblique handle details are more distinct and visually striking.

 

Arcade Bakery in New York City by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Arcade Bakery.

Arcade Bakery in New York City by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Arcade Bakery.

Sackett Street by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Sackett Street.

Sackett Street by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Sackett Street.

Sackett Street by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Sackett Street.

Prospect Park by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Prospect Park.

Drawings by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Drawing by Workstead.

Drawings by Workstead | Yellowtrace
Drawing by Workstead.

 


[Images courtesy of Workstead.]

 

About The Author

Fenina Acance

Architecting away in Melbourne, Fenina is a shameless fashion, art and design fanatic who loves defying the relentless Melbournian uniform of black on black on black. Often spotted strutting a boisterous mix of pattern and colour, her eclectic love for the bold, raw and textured fuels her passion for design and contemporary art. When not indulging in Cy Twombly’s sensitive scribbles or Serra’s evocative sculptural forms, her love for everything Italian consumes the rest of her time. Whether it’s the language, design or food (especially food), Fenina is obsessed!

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