interior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: workstead

by anne

workstead is a brooklyn-based collaborative between stefanie brechbuehler and robert andrew highsmith, two risd grads who provide clients with architectural and design services including buildings, interiors, furniture, graphic design and events. before moving to their home in october 2009, they lived in a 387 sf studio apartment that taught them to collect only what really matters.  so when they found this 850 sf parlor floor apartment in cobble hill they knew it could house the space to live, work, create and entertain. we hope you enjoy today’s look into their place! click here for additional images. {thanks stefanie and robert, and ryan for the tip!}anne

[above: Elements of steel and light form a Calder-like composition.  The living room is an arrangement of things collected, inherited, and made.  The Eames Chair and Ottoman were inherited from Robert’s grandparents.  The throw and pillows on the sofa were made by Stefanie and Robert’s mothers.

The apartment is still a collection of things inherited, gathered, and assembled.  As an entity, our company Workstead has given us a chance to define our design sensibility and philosophy.  We believe that the most sustainable pattern for a domestic life is both re-use and re-invention.  We try to limit our purchases of ‘new’ furniture and objects, preferring the story and character of vintage and reconfigured pieces.  Most importantly, we believe in buying things once.  We have found that it leads to a way of life that is deliberate and focused.  For the most part, all of the furniture is made by us or our friends, or comes from a collection of modern pieces that Robert’s grandparent’s owned. When we moved to Cobble Hill, a coat of white paint provided a neutral vessel to contain these things we love. ]


The piano is from Robert’s parent’s house in North Carolina, and followed him to Brooklyn during a recent drive.  Growing up as a musician, and later training as a classical violinist, it is our reminder that music and performance should be a part of the everyday.  Above the piano, there is a small collection of old anatomical drawings, given to Robert by Stefanie. Each horizontal surface in the apartment is an opportunity to curate a small collection.  Driftwood, framed prints, a painting and a lamp make this wall a stark yet soft play on the light in the living room throughout the day.


The bedroom is a private space, yet is seen from both the Living Room and Office.  Panels of brown burlap curtains, purchased around the corner at Brooklyn General Store, hide a closet of clothes and boxes.  Two chairs, purchased by Stefanie on eBay provide a place to rest at the beginning and end of each day.  The chest in between them is from Robert’s great-grandmother’s house.  On the chest, there is a piece of pottery by Ben Owen, a North Carolina potter.


Asher Israelow made the bed out of Peruvian and domestic walnut.  Asher is a former classmate of ours from the Rhode Island School of Design, a good friend, and a frequent collaborator.  As a furniture maker, it was his first commissioned piece, and he spent countless hours perfecting the inlay and finish.  The painting hanging above the bed was done by Robert’s grandmother, Sammie.  For lighting, we mounted two versatile lamps that were manufactured by Dazor in the 1940s.  They were found in Providence, RI at an antique store for $75.


The room functions as an office by day and a dining room by night.  The chandelier that hangs above is designed and assembled by Workstead, keeping the light in balance throughout the day.  Eames Aluminum Group chairs (from a vintage shop in Saugerties, NY) surround a table, fabricated by Robert for Stefanie for her birthday a few years ago. The prints on the wall are silk screen music posters, bought by Stefanie on a RISD trip to Cuba.  The board is made of 2x4s and homasote, a dense recycled paper board.  It makes the perfect tack board for drawings, postcards, and unopened mail.

CLICK HERE for the rest of workstead’s sneak peek after the jump!


A collection of postcards, sent between Stefanie and Robert during a year apart, creates a composition on the wall that both marks the time and is a quiet reminder of their past, when Stefanie lived in Utah and Robert in Rhode Island.  Stacks of postcards lie beside a typewriter used to create them.


After a year of working from a coffee table in our studio apartment in the East Village, we were anxious to create an organized but comfortable space for working, dining, and entertaining.  In the center of the office space, there is ample room for the prototype of the Workstead Table, which we currently use as a desk to review drawings and meet with colleagues and friends.  The table was made by Robert for Stefanie’s birthday.  It is built from two steel stands formerly used to support the structure of a ship’s hull.  The table top in an old wooden door.  The sideboard is a vintage Danish dresser, and the Dazor lamps appear again to provide extra light.  The focal point of the room is the Chandelier, designed and assembled by Workstead.  It is composed of re purposed O.C. White industrial joints, new-cut steel, and vintage sockets.  Placed on a dimmer, it provides the perfect balance of light throughout the day.

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