Cedarburg resident Jake Knox has been involved in the
design of the interiors of restaurants and businesses
throughout the Milwaukee area.
GRAFTON — Jake Knox, owner of Lucky Star Studios and the
newly formed 5253 Design Collective, is not shy to admit
it all started with a single table he built in his
had bartered for a door from a shop in Cedarburg and
turned it into a table,” he said. “I took it back and it
sold the next day. I kept making them and they kept
selling them. It was so much fun.”
Knox, a Cedarburg resident, already had an established
career in corporate home improvement sales for a
nationwide company and at one time had his own
construction business, but that serendipitous whim
started him down a different path. He would go on to
start a new business, Lucky Star Workshop, which quickly
became known for the work it did, especially in
restaurant and business interiors.
“The turning point was when we did Maxie’s and Blue’s
Egg,” said Knox of his studio’s work in the two
restaurants in Milwaukee.
Work followed in a number of restaurants, including
Story Hill BKC, Bel Air Cantina locations and closer to
home, he did the interior of Out & Out and tweaked the
Stilt House space in Cedarburg.
as Knox was going from project to project, he also was
starting to get to know and rely on a growing group of
started sourcing things from a welding fabricator and
from a commercial upholsterer,” he said. “And a local
artist who paints murals for us.”
That local artist is Julie Osmus of Cedarburg, who
transformed a photo Knox took of boats on a beach in
Puerto Rico into a 16-foot mural for his studio.
was at that point where the business evolved into 5253
Design Collective. His original Lucky Star Workshop
remains a part of the collective and primarily focuses
on custom-built furniture, and 5253 Design Collective
became a full-fledged creative co-op in December 2017,
doing work for commercial and private clients.
Essentially, Knox has built a large toolbox that design
and construction professionals can draw from for their
projects. Instead of actual tools, it’s the place to tap
into the craft and creativity of those local artisans.
work continues to include restaurant and commercial
build outs, such as Cedarburg’s new Brandywine and
Toast, the second restaurant for Stilt House owner
Gordon Goggin which is slated to open in Walker’s Point.
But 5253 Design Collective also provides custom
residential furniture and other specialty work and even
artwork for private clients.
While the artisans have their own businesses and
workspaces, the hub of the collective is located in
Knox’s 5,000-square-foot design and build studio and
workspace, which is located in the circa 1865 woolen
mill along the Milwaukee River.
are now able to better collaborate with a number of
industry professionals – interior designers, developers,
architects,” he said. “It’s really been amazing to see
how this business has grown and brought people
Which leads to one of his favorite things to do when
completing a project, specifically a restaurant or other
commercial space. He loves to visit the finished work,
but prefers to sit in a corner and not tell people he
much prefer to watch their expressions as they come in,
enjoy the work and interact with the space itself,” he
said. “That’s one of the best parts of all of this.”