WHO WE ARE

Workstead is a multidisciplinary studio celebrated by the AD100 as a global leader in design. From our Brooklyn office, more than 20 professionals create one-of-a-kind buildings and interiors that are comprehensive in vision and exacting in detail. Our Hudson, New York–based lighting studio is trusted by consumers and designers as a source of evocative luminaires, which are manufactured in the Shenandoah Valley. In small- and large-scale work alike, Workstead employs a disciplined design process that melds precedent, modern form, and honest construction. Representing both familiarity and reinvention, our work resonates with individual clients and commercial audiences over years of use.

 

WHAT WE DO

Workstead creates residences, hospitality destinations, and real estate developments. Our Brooklyn-based building and interiors practice champions genuine connections to history and landscape. A human-centered approach to the design process also ensures that projects possess an empathy and functionality that surpass expectations and stand the test of time—they are places of beauty and necessity. 

Our Hudson lighting studio takes a threefold approach to design excellence in our product line as well as custom works. As sources of illumination, visual statements, and interactive objects, Workstead luminaires embody utility, restraint, and tactility. In our aim for longevity in design and fabrication, it is the emotional relationship between a light fixture and its user that distinguishes an heirloom from a mere commodity. 

Both of Workstead’s design practices are dedicated to breaking new creative ground with meticulous execution. In turn, our architects of record, engineers, and craftspeople are trusted collaborators, and we welcome inquiries from new clients who believe that a project may also be a contribution to culture. 

 

 

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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