The Healing Power of Creative Expression

The Alpha Workshops

Faux Marble Floor at Gracie Mansion

Ken Wampler was working as a busy decorative painter in 1995, for some major interior design firms – Parish Hadley among them.  He found himself (like many of us at the time) overwhelmed with the losses of talent to the AIDS crisis, and wanted to do something about it.  Armed with paint brushes, a wealth of knowledge and an entrepreneurial spirit, he created The Alpha Workshops.  Part school/training facility, part laboratory, and part manufacturing facility, The Alpha Workshops seeks to assist HIV+ individuals in gaining new skills as decorative craftsman, and showcases their work for sale to the interior design community.  In its 17 year history, the  organization has impacted the lives of more than 300 HIV+ men, women and their families by teaching the techniques of a myriad of creative arts disciplines, and stands ready to meet the needs of other chronically ill communities.  I visited with Ken this week, and wanted to share why I think AW is a great (underutilized!) resource for bespoke interior design products and painted finishes.

There are 3 specific categories of things to consider at Alpha.  First, there’s the wallpaper.  There are hand-blocked, hand painted and textured styles – all artfully shown on the AW website in all the stock colorways for each design.  I inquired about the possibility of having custom colorways, and Ken shared that anything is possible, and in fact encouraged.  The second “product line” to consider is perhaps the mainstay of AW’s work is decorative painting.  The artisans trained and employed by Alpha meet directly with members of the interior design community to create different paint finishes – from Venetian Plaster to Faux Marble.  Wampler showed me a collection of sample boards, commissioned by designers for consultation with their clients.  The work is first-rate.  Like any other business, AW is contacted and asked to submit a bid for an off-site painted finish, and upon agreement of terms, the work is scheduled with all materials provided.  Finally, there are the furniture and accessories manufactured at the studios.  Lamps, tables, cabinetry, and folding screens were in evidence on the day of my visit, but Wampler was quick to point out that his staff’s potential is only limited by the imagination of the designer.

“Topography” wallpaper and a  Faux Malachite lamp

Lastly, The Alpha Workshops has forged partnerships with some of the most distinguished vendors in the world of interior design, including: Edward Fields Carpet Makers, Koroseal Interior Products Group, Pollack Fabrics, Thibaut Inc., and Artaissance.  These collections are readily accessible via links on the AW website.  Proceeds from the sales of licensed products directly fund ongoing training and work at AW, so you get an exemplary product for clients while providing life-affirming work.  It’s a win-win if I’ve ever seen one.

If you’d like to set up an appointment to see the products and services available through The Alpha Workshops, contact Ken Wampler.  He’s eager to help design professionals in realizing their creativity… and to help the NYC community of HIV+ individuals re-integrate themselves into the work environment.

Faux Green Marble

The Alpha Workshops  245 West 29th Street  14th Floor  212-594-7320