When the Bubble Won’t Burst, You Get Creative

Business partners Billy Guilford, left, and Geoff Koslow, intend to house their interns as well as educate them.
Portrait by Rachel Pressley

According to Zumper, an online rental platform, you can expect to fork out $1,453 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in Asheville. That’s a 42-percent increase from last year and an exponential jump since Geoff Koslow rolled into town nine years ago. 

“When I moved here from Austin, Texas, I got lucky and fell into a really ideal housing opportunity,” says Koslow, co-owner of Lexington Glassworks. 

Other artists aren’t so lucky. Since 2013, when Koslow and business partner Billy Guilford opened their contemporary glassblowing studio on the South Slope, housing costs have skyrocketed. As a result, Lexington Glassworks has struggled to recruit and retain talent. Employees just can’t find safe, affordable housing that “allows them to be the professionals they want to be,” explains Koslow.

That’s about to change. This spring, Lexington Glassworks is launching its Glass Resident Assistantship Program. During the six-month residency, two burgeoning glassblowers will have the opportunity to learn about creative entrepreneurship and production glassblowing in real time. 

In an even rarer opportunity, they’ll be staying in a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment for free.  

The single-occupant apartment is located in a five-unit building just a mile away from the studio. Koslow and Guilford acquired the building in late 2021 and have since been working to furnish it with everything a young aspiring professional may need, from a couch to soup spoons.

“It’s completely move-in ready,” Guilford says, noting that only two of the five units will be used for the assistantship program. The other three are occupied by full-time tenants.  

The downtown location means that the assistants can bike or walk to work, where they’ll spend 40 hours a week in the hot shop and another five hours focusing on their own creative endeavors. After three months at Lexington Glassworks, each assistant will create one product line to sell in the gallery and online. After six months, they’ll have a shot at extending their residency. 

“We hope they make Asheville their permanent home,” says Guilford. “We want to grow a bigger, more diverse community of glass artists.”  

Lexington Glassworks, 81 South Lexington Ave., Asheville. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10am-6pm, and Sunday, 11am-6pm. Applicants to the Glass Resident Assistantship Program must have a minimum of one year of experience working in a glassblowing studio. For more information, call 828-348-8427 or see lexingtonglassworks.com. 

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