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Visiting a person’s workspace is like taking a peek inside their brain. Whether it’s at home or in an art studio, Nice Work explores where creative people do all of their, well, creating, so that you can steal their on-the-clock style.

Name: Victoria Sass

Occupation: Principal and interior designer, Prospect Refuge Studio

Time I start: I like to get up early (around 5 a.m.) and get a little work time in before the family starts stirring. After breakfasts and buses, I might roll into the studio about 10 a.m.

Time I clock out: I try to close the laptop by 6 p.m. most days. Maybe I pick it up an hour or so in the evenings after dinner.

Most important thing on my desk: A coaster for my beverages.

What’s on the walls: Tapestries by Megumi Shauna Arai, hooks by Elizabeth Parker of Blanche Jelly, a landscape painting by Ginny Sims, and some inspiration pinboards of scraps we are loving on.

Current creative fuel: Working outside of Minneapolis. I love when I get to spend a few days sourcing in New York City or Los Angeles, or visiting our current projects in Kansas and Chicago. I also had an amazing trip to Israel with some design colleagues last month. People plus places are where it’s at for me.

What I turn to when I’m stuck: We keep a good supply of books at the studio, many of which are untapped resources. I’m a firm believer that it’s healthy to have some books around that you haven’t read yet for when you need to see something spontaneous and new—especially cookbooks. 

How I stay organized: Project baskets and clear plastic Velcro folders. I also live by my Monk Manual—it helps me keep my to-do list focused and concise and reminds me to practice gratitude and reflect at the end of the day.

Ideal office lighting: We like a warm, glowy mood. Dimmable overhead lighting punctuated by sculptural accents that function as art. Our conference lighting is a piece from our Ontologia collection, a collaboration with Hennepin Made. The globes are removable, so you can place them on the tabletop for a candlelight vibe. We also have pieces by Céline Wright and Allied Maker.

Conference table I convene around: Our current conference table is a collaboration between PRS and local makers Elijah Neumann of NEU Design, who crafted the triple-barrel base, and Brian Grabski of Designed & Made, who helped us make the inlaid marmoleum top with a ribbed walnut edge band. A few 1960s red chairs by Rainer Schell round out the whole situation. 

Caffeine I run on: Coke Zero. Actually, I’m a big beverage person, and there’s a time and place for everything. Three espressos first thing in the morning, followed by my first Coke, then it’s a Spindrift with lunch. After lunch, [I’ll have] another espresso and another Diet Coke, or if I’m out at an afternoon meeting, it’s probably a matcha latte or a craft mocktail. 

Biggest splurge in this space that was so worth it: Commissioning artist Tara Austin, who applied rosemaling to our kitchenette cabinets. 

Biggest save that I’d recommend to anyone: IKEA wood drafting desks with sawhorse legs. They have stood the test of time!

Preferred soundtrack: My day progresses musically along with my beverages. Mornings are classical, to ease into things a bit. Then it’s probably some ’70s country rock when I get in the studio (CCR or Rolling Stones). Later in the afternoon, we might get into some Hank Mobley if I need to flow, or Dominic Fike if we are working on a shoot or brainstorm session. We have a small but mighty record collection at the studio.

Local artist featured in our space that I can’t get enough of: Bobby Rogers. We have a beautiful portrait of his in our front lounge space that is my favorite place to take a Zoom call.

Book on my shelf I’m constantly pulling out to show clients: The Steven Gambrel monograph. [There are] so many beautiful, complicated, and fascinating details in his work.

Paint choice that had the biggest impact on the space: We had a painting day at the studio and painted our grand archway a bright yellow. I think the colorway is XXX. It was kind of spontaneous; we balanced it by painting our prop shelves, a modular design prototype we’ve kept around, a true cherry red.

Key to making an office feel homey and welcoming: Art. Real, personal, preferably (but not exclusively) local art, and a few plants. Caregiving is important in a workspace. We ask so much of it, you have to give back a little if you want to form a true relationship with your environment.

Things I Can’t Work Without