The team at Workshop/APD had the chance to speak with Brent about all things furniture and design for this month’s In the Studio installation.
In 2015, Brent Warr told himself that he would never move back to his hometown of Bainbridge, GA. But a few years, career shifts, and a pandemic later, the self-taught artist came across an opportunity that was too good to pass up: a 17,000 square foot warehouse for sale in downtown Bainbridge. Built in 1902 and sizable enough to convert into a studio, an apartment, and several retail shops, Brent saw the space’s potential and went for it.
After graduating with a degree in Environmental Design from Auburn University, Brent moved to New York City where he worked for notable firms, Yabu Pushelberg and Meyer Davis. It was there that he was exposed to the luxury market and collectible design. Inspired by the forms that he had come to know intimately as a designer, Brent saw an opening in the market for pieces rendered in plaster and started to experiment.
“I’m not a skilled tradesman, I’ve never done carpentry, and I’m not a classically trained metalworker,” Brent admits, but he taught himself his craft through books, online resources, the help of a few great mentors, and, of course, lots of trial and error.
Brent’s work combines all the best parts of fine and functional art – abstract forms, bright colors, eye-catching proportions, all comprising objects that are built for practical uses. These forms aren’t arbitrary, either. Several pieces in his collection are inspired by 16th and 17th century British and French antiquities articles, such as celestial headwear and high-back chairs, exaggerated to become statement pieces. However, they are more than decorative. Seating, like chairs and benches, are soft yet sturdy, while objects, like mirrors and light fixtures, provide artful utility.
This is what our team had in mind when selecting the ceiling pendants and floor lamp for our Downtown Penthouse Duplex – elegant, textured pieces that contribute to the larger story. As a former designer, Brent likes to understand the context around his commissions. “At the end of the day, it’s the designer’s or the client’s vision, but I bring a lot of knowledge to the table. It would be great to build on that collaboration more, and take these ideas even further in future projects,” Brent commented.
Among his many current projects, Brent was particularly excited about a recent commission by the up-and-coming fashion brand Cult Gaia to build two 10-foot steel mirrors, two lounge chairs, and two planters for their new Manhattan flagship store. Working with new materials like metal and solid red oak, as he did for the Cult Gaia project, doesn’t intimidate Brent. When asked about working with new materials, he said, “I’m always learning. That’s what’s fun about my job.”
What would his dream project be? “I would love to do a big hospitality project. When I say “big,” I mean a large statement lighting piece for a main entrance lobby, pieces for higher end presidential suites, or F&B would be interesting too,” Brent said. “That was my background, so it would be a cool full-circle moment for me.”
Now, his work can be found in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and London, but the artist’s roots are still firmly planted in Bainbridge. While growing his business and renovating the warehouse, Brent is excited to bring art and design to a place where it doesn’t always have visibility. With this new platform, he can show the younger generations in his growing hometown that you can be a successful working artist in a town of just 16,000 people.
Still in his 20s, Brent didn’t expect his work to be such a rapid success. He was working 80 and 90 hour weeks to get it off the ground, and he was hopeful when he released his collection at ICFF in 2021. Now, his work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, Interior Design, and other top industry publications. “To put it plainly,” he said, “I did not expect this to happen in the first year. I just wanted to create something meaningful and beautiful.”
All images provided by Brent Warr.