Alpha Workshops is the nation’s only non-profit organization providing HIV-positive individuals with industry-specific training and employment in the decorative arts. Founded in 1995, the organization is composed of a fully licensed vocational school, Alpha Workshops Studio School (AWSS), and Alpha Workshops Studios, an award-winning, full-service design and decorative arts studio staffed exclusively with AWSS graduates. Modeled on the early 20th-century English Omega Workshops, the Bauhaus, and the American Arts and Crafts movement, the Studios provide an array of decorative arts services including custom fabrication, decorative paint and plaster finishes, gilding, and on-site art installations, in addition to producing hand-painted wallpaper, custom built and hand-finished case goods, lighting, tables, and decorative accessories.
Alpha Workshops was in need of a donor recognition program for its newly renovated facility to honor its generous supporters. The designers created, pro bono, an interlocking donor recognition wall inspired by the iconic Eames
House of Cards
. Large-scale, blank acrylic panels were created with 6 connectible slots, similar to the Eames cards, and finished by an Alpha Workshops artist in wallpaper, silver or gold leaf, plaster, or tromp-l’oeil finish. Approximately 150 panels were composed into an intricate, 4-foot-high by 5-foot-wide structure displaying donor names. The flexibility of the donor wall allows for periodic additions of new names, while the panels also serve as a showcase of the Studios’ work. The same panels were also wall-mounted to serve as room dedication signs for various studios, classrooms, and restrooms throughout the facility.
The designers were also responsible for Alpha Workshops’ main identification sign consisting of the organization’s logotype fabricated out of thousands of handmade steel nails. These nails, commonly used in furniture upholstery, were individually placed by hand by Alpha artists into a painted and plaster-finished plywood panel. A store-bought LED light fixture mounted behind the panel provides a cost-effective means of halo illumination.
Through close collaboration with the Studios, the designers created elegant yet economical solutions for Alpha Workshops that highlight their creativity and craftsmanship.
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New York, New York
Publications and Recognitions
Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD)
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