Writing by Angela Castles
Photography by Katie Jameson
Step into the WORK studio and you’ll realize that this isn’t just another workplace. What was once a run-down pawnshop has been transformed into a place of endless inspiration and collaboration for the WORK collective – Noah Marion Quality Goods, Hoiden Supply Co. and Golden Eagle Creative. The services WORK offers are as varied as its founders: it’s a studio meets digital agency meets clothing and coffee shop, founded by friends who could talk about incense making, women’s purses and motorcycle riding in the same sentence.
The services WORK offers are as varied as its founders… who could talk about incense making, women’s purses and motorcycle riding in the same sentence.
On first impression, the collective seem more like a family than co-workers, and their studio – a combination of fortuitous timing and months of labor – is their home away from home.
For a collective that seems so cohesive, it’s hard to believe it formed in a matter of days. Earlier this year Noah Marion, an Austin leather goods maker, had just managed to secure his dream studio. Then, it was a run-down pawnshop, but he could see it had potential. All that was needed were people to fill the space. A phone call to childhood friends Madison Enloe and Marlene Goodfleisch – the minds behind women’s mercantile Hoiden Supply Co. – and the wheels were set in motion. After another of Noah’s friends, Sean Greenberg from digital agency Golden Eagle Creative, agreed to share the space, WORK was born.
My personal aesthetic, which I think we all share, is definitely utilitarian.
Walking into the place, you’re struck by how welcoming it is. Floor-to-ceiling windows let the mid-afternoon light stream in, bathing the space in a bright, fresh glow. From the raw materials used throughout to the striking white color scheme accentuated with succulents, natural leathers and cotton, everything is cohesively organic without feeling self-consciously curated. The space has a functional, minimal chic that’s more Palm Springs than Plano – this isn’t surprising; Marlena and Madison both worked in California before returning to Austin. Yet there are still nods to the collective’s Texan roots: a lone star flag and vintage Allen’s boots posters – relics from Sean’s family business – adorn the walls.
This unpretentious, minimal aesthetic is indicative of the collective’s general emphasis on quality over trendiness. “My personal aesthetic, which I think we all share, is definitely utilitarian,” Noah notes. While it may be that, it’s by no means cold: it’s a welcoming space where form meets function in perfect harmony. Everything serves a purpose beyond decoration, from the rows of hammers decorating the wall to the spools of cotton thread on Noah’s workbench.
This focus on substance over style was passed down from Noah’s grandfather: “He embodied the generation when things were just made the right way, built well, and lasted forever. That, to me, embodies all of our aesthetic. A lasting, not trendy but timeless aesthetic that can transcend any generation.”
For a group of old friends, all it took were a series of chance meetings to reunite them again. “I came to Noah looking for a knife sheaf for my cowboy boots,” Sean laughs. “We were talking about ideas, and Marlene texted Noah asking to stock some of his items in the store.” From these encounters, the seeds of WORK were sown.
“It just so happened that all of us did a full circle; we graduated, went away, did our thing individually, came back to Austin and somehow managed to come together again. It was like the stars aligned,” Marlene says. It was indeed serendipitous, a good omen for the future of WORK. “It was a two-day period and suddenly we had a space, we were together, and we thought, ‘OK, let’s do this,’” Noah says.
The name itself is a playful reference to the traditional 9-to-5 grind. “The idea is to re-associate WORK as a concept where we enjoy work,” Noah explains. “People can come and shop, drink coffee, have their digital and design services met, and hang out.”
Highlighting the imperfections in the space builds character, makes it come together as a whole.
– Madison Enloe
Yet there was still a lot to do to transform the WORK space into the collaborative oasis it is now. “All of a sudden we found ourselves up ladders with nail guns, hoping we didn’t shoot each other in the face,” Marlene laughs. Yet it was these hours of hard work that made the end product so much more gratifying.
Instead of re-fitting the old building, they stripped it back to its original state, highlighting the beauty in its rawness. “Being an artist, I struggle with perfection, so highlighting the imperfections in the space builds character, makes it come together as a whole,” Madison says. “I think with us, too, that’s what makes us work together really well.” Finally, they had a space that spoke to who they wanted to be as a collective.
It’s still early days for WORK, but already they’ve achieved much to be proud of. Reflecting on his time there so far, Sean’s fondest memory is of their opening party. “I was extremely proud – everyone came out to support us, everyone loves the space. If you’d seen what it looked like then and what it looks like now, you’d be shocked.”
Now that they’ve got themselves established, what are WORK’s plans for the future? “We wanna take over the world,” Noah laughs.
But their actual goals are much more humble: “We want to build a community that perpetuates a beautiful, well-lived life.”
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Writing: Angela Castles
Photography: Katie Jameson, @katiejameson