Quantcast

Studio Tour

Studio Tour: The Boxing & Labeling Department at The Pencil Factory

by Annie Werbler

When Ping Zhu offered to let us check out her shared workspace in the Pencil Factory building in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, we were not surprised to recognize the names of many of her studiomates — designers, illustrators, artists, and friends we’ve known throughout the years. Along with a coterie of independent illustration, lettering, graphic design, jewelry design, and ceramics masters, Ping works from a space in the early-1900s building previously owned by the Eberhard Faber pencil manufacturing company; specifically in what was once the boxing and labeling department (hence the name of their collective). In about 950 square feet, Ping and makers of all sorts — Kaye Blegvad, Leandro Castelao, Dan Cassaro, Spencer Charles, Dan Christofferson, Gwendal Le Bec, and Kelly Thorn — have put together an organic, communal space “more geared towards functional living and working, rather than aesthetic consistency.”

Over nearly three years, a handful of people have come and gone, and items left behind from the modern era and before are eagerly repurposed. “It can often feel like a shantytown,” Ping jokes. These elements add unique charm, in addition to the high, exposed ceilings, worn hardwood floors, painted brick walls, and oversized windows characteristic of the building. “We wanted to create a space that felt inviting to anyone who entered, whether just hanging out to play a game of foosball,” Ping notes, “Or joining the studio in a more permanent way.” That harmonious vibe encourages mutual support and enhanced creativity, but when a change in perspective is needed, the spectacular Manhattan skyline rooftop view can’t be beat. —Annie

Photography by Daniel Cochran

Studio Tour: The Boxing & Labeling Department at The Pencil Factory, on Design*Sponge
1/16
Pet-friendly furniture and a foosball table set the warm and welcoming ambiance for the Boxing & Labeling Department studio at the Pencil Factory in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood.
Studio Tour: The Boxing & Labeling Department at The Pencil Factory, on Design*Sponge
2/16
The studiomates packed together on a tufted leather studio sofa from Jon Contino. Not pictured is part-time member (and my old-time travel buddy!) Jessica Hische. A Boxing & Labeling sign pokes out from the pillar behind Kaye.
Studio Tour: The Boxing & Labeling Department at The Pencil Factory, on Design*Sponge
3/16
"Our favorite thing about the studio is each other." - Boxing & Labeling Department studiomates
Studio Tour: The Boxing & Labeling Department at The Pencil Factory, on Design*Sponge
4/16
Illustrator Ping Zhu paints a character with hair like her own. She works with a glass panel as her paint palette - the colorful strokes of which resemble a work of art in its own right.
Studio Tour: The Boxing & Labeling Department at The Pencil Factory, on Design*Sponge
5/16
Details of Ping's illustration process.
Studio Tour: The Boxing & Labeling Department at The Pencil Factory, on Design*Sponge
6/16
Illustrator and children's book author Gwendal Le Bec uses pen and ink to create his books, one of which rests against the wall beside his corkboard.
Studio Tour: The Boxing & Labeling Department at The Pencil Factory, on Design*Sponge
7/16
Leandro Castelao wielding a die-cut ruler he created, the "template of particles," to hand-draw abstract shapes frequently used in his illustrations.
Studio Tour: The Boxing & Labeling Department at The Pencil Factory, on Design*Sponge
8/16
Dan Cassaro (left) and Dan Christofferson (right) in a sunny corner of the studio. Their work lines the walls in addition to "other amusing kitten ephemera which speaks to their wily and free-spirited personalities," according to Ping.
Studio Tour: The Boxing & Labeling Department at The Pencil Factory, on Design*Sponge
9/16
Illustrator and designer Dan working at his desk. Ping's vibrantly-spotted paint palette hangs high on the wall.
Studio Tour: The Boxing & Labeling Department at The Pencil Factory, on Design*Sponge
10/16
Designers Kelly Thorn (left) and Spencer Charles (right), a husband-and-wife design team, work closely together in every way. Spencer made the stained glass alphabet window behind Kelly, while her laptop screen shows a spooky hand drawing underway.
Studio Tour: The Boxing & Labeling Department at The Pencil Factory, on Design*Sponge
11/16
The multi-talented illustrator, jewelry designer, and ceramicist Kaye Blegvad.
Studio Tour: The Boxing & Labeling Department at The Pencil Factory, on Design*Sponge
12/16
A sample of Kaye's multimedia design work in print and ceramic.
Studio Tour: The Boxing & Labeling Department at The Pencil Factory, on Design*Sponge
13/16
The jeweler's bench zone where Kaye hammers it out.
Studio Tour: The Boxing & Labeling Department at The Pencil Factory, on Design*Sponge
14/16
In the back of the studio above an antique fainting couch, a collection of everyone's work is proudly displayed.
Studio Tour: The Boxing & Labeling Department at The Pencil Factory, on Design*Sponge
15/16
Bright blue yet unassuming studio doors. "The building management will not let us mount any signage to the exterior wall," Ping laments.
Studio Tour: The Boxing & Labeling Department at The Pencil Factory, on Design*Sponge
16/16
Ping exits to check out the Manhattan view from the rooftop.

Suggested For You

Comments

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.