WHO WE ARE

Workstead is an award-winning, multidisciplinary design firm established in 2009. Since its founding, Workstead has earned acclaim for one-of-a-kind projects that are comprehensive in vision and exacting in detail. Celebrated as “connoisseurs of craftsmanship” in the AD100 ranking of the world’s leading designers, Stefanie Brechbuehler, Robert Highsmith, and Ryan Mahoney oversee Workstead from studios in Brooklyn and Hudson, New York.   

Workstead’s Brooklyn studio is home to more than 20 professionals specializing in interiors and building. Homeowners, hospitality entrepreneurs, and real estate developers seek out the practice for places of beauty and necessity. These commissions foster genuine connections to site and community while surpassing the client’s needs, and they are executed with a signature restraint. 

The Hudson, New York, studio is dedicated to lighting. Workstead conceives lighting for its own interiors and building projects, and it designs lighting collections for trade professionals and retail consumers. As visual statements and tactile objects, Workstead’s luminaires embody longevity in design and fabrication. In large-scale lighting commissions, they contribute vitally to a space’s atmosphere and performance.   

Throughout its body of work, Workstead employs a design process that is both disciplined and collaborative, practically minded and culturally resonant. While each commission has unique demands, Workstead’s methodology consistently aspires to meld historic precedent, progressive expression, and honest construction.

 

WHAT WE DO

INTERIOR AND BUILDING DESIGN 

Project Conceptualization through Working Drawings

Construction Administration

FF&E (Commercial)

Decoration (Residential) 

 

LIGHTING 

Globally Recognized Lighting Collections  

Custom Lighting Design & Fabrication

 

CREATIVE DIRECTION 

Art Direction

Styling

 

Team

Robert Highsmith Robert Highsmith

Robert Highsmith

Co-Founder B.A. Furman University, M.Arch RISD

Workstead cofounder Robert Andrew Highsmith is a professionally trained violinist and violist who, after earning his music degree, pursued his other lifelong interest in architecture—a trade practiced in his family for four generations. Upon graduating from Rhode Island School of Design, Robert collaborated on residences with Asher Israelow. Since 2009 he has contributed to all aspects of Workstead’s renowned environments while overseeing its lighting studio. There, he approaches luminaires as human-scale icons: Robert melds strong visual identity with tactile interactivity, while ensuring that an object embodies the highest standards of functionality, sustainability, and artisanship.

Stefanie Brechbuehler Stefanie Brechbuehler

Stefanie Brechbuehler

Co-Founder B.I.A. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, M.Arch RISD

Stefanie Brechbuehler leads special projects for Workstead, which include branded partnerships such as Workstead’s most recent collaboration with Schumacher, as well as events and publications that range from open houses and portfolio days to the firm’s upcoming monograph of residences (Rizzoli). In this creative director position, Stefanie also coordinates design efforts taking place in both the building- and lighting-design studios. Among her previous positions, Stefanie oversaw interiors at Michael Graves Architecture & Design before matriculating at Rhode Island School of Design and she held a design position at Gensler prior to cofounding Workstead with Robert Highsmith in 2009.

Ryan Mahoney Ryan Mahoney

Ryan Mahoney

Partner B.F.A. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, M.Arch RISD

Sculptor and designer Ryan Mahoney joined Workstead in 2010. He heads Workstead’s interiors and building commissions from the firm’s Brooklyn office. Prior to his career in design, Ryan designed and built sets for Chicago’s Redmoon Theatre, starting during his undergraduate studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. Today he applies a theater-community perspective to his leadership role at Workstead, by stewarding the studio’s collaborative process as well as its commitment to meticulously handmade spaces. Ryan designed coastal residences for a New England studio immediately after graduating from Rhode Island School of Design.

Jon Whitaker Jon Whitaker

Jon Whitaker

Managing Director - Buildings & Interiors B.F.A. Interior Architecture and Design, Academy of Art University San Francisco

In 2015, Jonny Whitaker joined Workstead at its Brooklyn studio to oversee new business development and manage the building and interiors design processes, and he became managing director in 2018. Jonny is a self-described apparatus for ideas to blossom, by selecting design commissions and engaging with clients to make sure all stakeholders feel represented and inspired. He further shepherds concepts to realization, by optimizing projects for functionality and budget. A former lineman and professional golfer, Jonny worked for David Thomspson Architect and Bright Architecture in Charleston and Brooklyn, respectively, before arriving at Workstead.

Ryan Kelly Ryan Kelly

Ryan Kelly

Managing Director - Products B.S. Management and Marketing, Boston College

Hudson-based Ryan Kelly leads business operations and expansion strategy for Workstead’s lighting collection: he oversees marketing, sales, and production as a seamless customer experience with the goal of increasing visibility among trade clients, wholesale partners, and direct consumers. In addition, Ryan previously drove brand amplification through partnerships, licensing, events, and other opportunities for Areaware, W&P, and Chronicle Books, and he is now applying best digital-age marketing and business-development practices to Workstead’s marketplace. Ryan fosters design lovers’ discovery of the Workstead brand, and he strives for these interactions to feel authentic and inspiring.

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