In 2015, the Brooklyn design studio WORKSTEAD designed lighting and beds for a unique redo of the 40-year-old Warren Motel (which was previously a movie house from 1928–1958, before becoming a motel) on Warren Street in Hudson. The finished product: the elegant boutique hotel, Rivertown Lodge.
Four years later, WORKSTEAD has opened a new design studio/showroom within walking distance of Rivertown Lodge.
Robert Highsmith, his wife, Stefanie Brechbuehler, and Ryan Mahoney founded WORKSTEAD in Brooklyn 10 years ago. Their work — which includes The Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg and The Dewberry Charleston — has been featured in The New York Times Style Magazine, Architectural Digest, and Dwell, among many other publications.
“Our hotels are special to us, because the public can see what we do,” Highsmith says.
“We’re focusing on the product side, and the interior design side. Now we have a platform to engage our customers.”
WORKSTEAD has set up shop in an 1880s-era Hudson home.
The Hudson studio is inside an 1880s-era home originally owned by Cornelius H. Evans, a brewer and businessman who served two terms as the city’s mayor. Its original architectural details are beautifully intact, and provide the perfect backdrop for WORKSTEAD’s products.
In addition to the stunning design, what makes the products unique is that — unlike most lighting options that are “Look, but do not touch” — these beg to be manipulated.
The latest products — the Chamber lamp, sconce, and chandelier — are striking in their simplicity: a metal shroud in a variety of color choices, covering a simple, soft-white bulb. But adjust the mechanism next to the shroud, and it raises or lowers to allow more or less light to escape.
“Our lighting is analog; we like people to touch it,” Highsmith says with a smile.
WORKSTEAD’s design portfolio now includes 24 light fixtures and (equally minimalist) furniture pieces. Growth was organic and natural: Mahoney now manages the Brooklyn studio, while Highsmith anchors Hudson (Brechbuehler will follow once the busy-ness eases of mothering twin girls who were born in November).