Luke Woodard and Ryan De Remer can truly offer the full hospitality treatment. Their business is called Sweatshop and it’s equal-parts cafe and creative design studio.
Located in the culturally diverse and rapidly evolving neighbourhood of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, Sweatshop is a kind of office/cafe hybrid.
“We built this whole space so, for us, it’s like a walk-in portfolio,” says Woodard.
Everything from the logo to the handcrafted furniture, graphic design work and architecture has been holistically visualised and constructed by Sweatshop.
“Creating worlds is how we explain what we do. We don’t just stop at a two-dimensional logo; we translate the logo into the three dimensional space and focus on cohesive branding and how all the elements are experienced together,” says De Remer.
The pair met at Monash University and after finishing their studies, both found themselves living in New York and spending a lot of time in coffee shops developing their ideas, networking and collaborating with likeminded people.
When establishing the Sweatshop studio in 2014, the boys were drawn to Williamsburg. They found a little rundown “quickie-mart” shop that begged to be transformed into a cafe at the studio’s entrance.
“So much creative energy comes from good coffee,” says De Remer.
“We wanted a space where people felt welcome to come in and use this energy to create whatever it is they’re working on,” says Woodard.
Inside Sweatshop there’s a large communal table full of laptop workers, scribblers and readers, usually with the likes of Melbourne musician Banoffee playing in the background. All other furniture comes in modular form, which can be re-arranged as customers see fit.
Coffee is by North Carolina roaster, Counter Culture, and served just the way we like it at home.
You can of course find an avo smash on the menu, and the jaffles provide a nice in-joke for Melbourne visitors: choose between the basic Templestowe jaffle or pay more for a jazzed-up Toorak variety.
“Americans also can’t pronounce jaffle. They ask, ‘What’s jawfle? Is that like a waffle’? It’s pretty funny,” says Woodard.
Sweatshop’s creative work can be seen at another Aussie cafe in New York, Two Hands, run by a Sydney duo.
“We regularly use the space for our own client meetings to show them what we can do and you just never know what opportunities will arise – it’s genius, really,” says De Remer.
“We had a regular customer come in who used to live here and he loved Sweatshop so much he commissioned us a cafe project in London,” says Woodard.
Tue to Fri 7am–6pm
Sat & Sun 8am–6pm