The Big Picture: The Workshop Residence

By Kathryn Clark.

There’s some powerful mingling going on between craft, art and design these days. San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood is certainly embracing it. Once a light industrial area, the area is radiating new energy these days, due in large part to the recently opened Museum of Craft and Design. On top of this exciting addition, there’s the bold Yellow Building which houses MAC – Modern Appealing Clothing, Piccino restaurant and DIG wine shop. Playing off the Yellow Building, the bold black and blue façade of The Workshop Residence fits right into the block, offering its own pulsing energy in the craft and design world while celebrating the neighborhood for what it once was and still is: a manufacturing district.


Clever signage was created by one of the residents, graphic designer Jennifer Morla.


Founded by Ann Hatch in 2011, The Workshop Residence offers eight one to two month residencies a year for artists and designers. During this time, they have the opportunity to work with local fabricators to create functional, affordable objects. The for-profit organization is self-sustaining and profit from sales is split 50/50 with the artists. The Workshop acts as a laboratory, incubator, studio, gallery and store, embracing all of these labels in one fluid, ever-evolving space.


The retail space features an ever evolving array of products.


Visible from the street, the retail area of The Workshop Residence offers a creative overview of the products made by the artists and designers during their residency, all very affordable considering the high quality of construction. Beautifully displayed on wood supplied by local wood craftsman Paul Discoe of Joinery Structures, the space constantly changes to accommodate the products available.


Product launch parties follow each artist’s residency.


As you step further into the space, you enter a working artist’s studio where all of the objects you are now coveting from the retail section were born. The artists have constant access to the workshop, their processes open and accessible. There are several public workshops, exhibitions and open houses per residency. And just to keep it interesting, Hatch aims for a stark contrast between projects.


Flatbread Society aprons ready to be assembled by workshop participants. The event was hosted by residents Amy Franceschini and Michael Swaine of The Futurefarmers.


In the back of the space one can see the tools used to make the products a reality. A production budget and staff are on hand to facilitate creative ideas. In-house prototypes are built to ensure complete understanding of the production process. Offsite, small production runs offer greater control over quality, but also lend themselves to local production, oftentimes within the Dogpatch. Program director Braden Weeks Earp and shopkeeper Katie McCracken assist artists with production tasks. Hatch and Weeks Earp have a long list of the most talented craftspeople they can call in for help, as needed. Ceramicist and educator, John Toki of Leslie Ceramics in Berkeley, for example, has helped residents with several projects, including large scale casting for Aurore Thibaut and creating glazes that match Pantone color chips for Dirk Van Saene. Ben and Chris Ospital, the owners of MAC, are early and ongoing supporters of The Workshop Residence. Chris even acted as a fit model for a denim work coat developed by resident Ann Hamilton.


Martha Davis at work on her shoes.


There’s been a creative buzz happening every time I’ve visited The Workshop Residence. At one of several open houses for the kimono workshop, reviewed here, I chatted with the current residents, Tsuyo Onodera and Maki Aizawa, while they adjusted a student’s obi. Meanwhile, the neighborhood textile printer, ZOO-INK, was checking in with the current residents to ensure they were happy with his company’s print job for them, which featured delicate patterns on natural linen. (The fabric is available sewn into aprons and stuffed zabuton pillows or for sale by the yard and it’s selling fast). Upcoming summer resident, Agelio Batle, was sifting through these fabrics and was eager to talk design. As I left, I watched a prominent gallery owner wander in, likely inspiring some amazing conversation about the art scene. It seems impossible to imagine that there is ever a dull moment here.


Creative Growth director, Tom di Maria and resident JD Beltran play with her snow globes developed at The Workshop.


Upcoming Events:

The Workshop Residence will be a part of “The Making Of…” at SFMOMA May 30th through June 1st.  They will be hosting various resident artists at two beautiful elm wood tables in the first floor lobby. Artists who have completed projects over the last year will share their processes and talk about how they make products in the SF Bay area.  Rotating artists at the tables include:

  • Jennifer Morla (Graphic Designer– winner of AIGIA Gold Medal and has 50 pcs in SF MOMA permanent collection)
  • Martha Davis (Shoe Designer / Industrial Design)
  • Phil Ross (Fungal Furniture)
  • June Resident Artist Agelio Batle
  • Lauren DiCioccio (tromploi soft sculpture and embroidery)
  • JD Beltran and Scott Minneman (Cinema Snowglobe)

The June Artist in Residence will be Agelio  Batle: Learn more about Agelio on his website:
Baskets with The Parker Family June 7,8,9.

Sign Up: Learn more about the Parkers with Deborah Valoma’s forthcoming Book:

Workshop Residence presents made in CA works by resident artists at the 100% California booth at The Dwell on Design conference June 21-23 at The Los Angeles convention center.

Boat Building with Aaron Turner July 2-30

Sign Up: Learn more about Aaron:


Images courtesy of TWR.

This entry was posted in Box 1, HOT PRESS, COOL EVENTS, THE BIG PICTURE. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Big Picture: The Workshop Residence

  1. What a fantastic opportunity for designers in residence, something we didn’t even know existed. Craft culture and the handmade is so hot right now, it’s wonderful to see places popping up that facilitate this type of creativity. While it is usually more cottage-industry type stuff, it’s nice to know that opportunities are emerging for higher end goods.