Business

Utilitarian Workshop Links KC Vendors Under One Roof

The Utilitarian Workshop on the Westside provides multipurpose resources to its local clients.

Local startups often have great business ideas but need help with design and marketing. Now, they can turn to The Utilitarian Workshop to address these needs.

The Utilitarian Workshop, founded by co-owners and designers John Anderson and Nicole Williams, is located in the historic Westside neighborhood.

“The Utilitarian Workshop is, first and foremost, a design studio,” Anderson says. He personally makes furniture in the space. “We do a lot of interior and furniture design, both commercial and residential. Nicole does graphic design and branding.”

All photos by Paul Andrews

Williams and Anderson’s store also sells handmade goods from local vendors. For instance, The Utilitarian workshop carries stoneware & terra-cotta vases and decorative plates with gold and brass leaf detail by the Object Enthusiast, Level Projects’ hide pouches and My Moon organic garments and accessories for children.

“We are a brick-and-mortar alternative to an Etsy shop, allowing a venue for artists to get their stuff to the public,” says Anderson. While Etsy allows artists to sell their work online, The Utilitarian Workshop provides a physical space for their products and connects local makers with each other and their customers.

The design of the multipurpose space fosters collaboration. It’s where Anderson and Williams meet with clients and where many of their object fabrication and furniture designs are inspired.

Anderson and Williams created custom fabrication, object design, print, collateral and branding for Port Fonda, creating a distinct look when the Mexican cuisine restaurant opened in Westport.

Both Anderson and Williams are University of Kansas graduates. Anderson majored in painting and Williams in graphic design. After graduating, Anderson lived in York City where he fell in love with woodworking. He returned to Kansas City to design furniture. He met Williams through a friend at a First Fridays event, and now the couple enjoys both a personal and professional relationship, which also influences how they interact with customers. Anderson and Williams take the time to “fall in love” with their clients. They understand their customers’ personalities, resulting in perfectly customized designs.

The Utilitarian Workshop blends selling products with marketing. Through close relationships with local makers and business partners, the company provides services tailored to an assortment of businesses. The shop emphasizes craft and connection as stated on the website: “We provide an inspiring platform for like-minded, free-thinking individuals to eat, drink, create, discuss, discover and celebrate.

Story by Alex Sher