Phoebe Robinson is a powerhouse with an industrial cool meets cozy office to match. Check out the Brooklyn space complete with emerald velvet sofa and custom Monica Ahanonu artwork over on the blog now.
Phoebe was inspired by an illustration she saw of Ava DuVernay, so she reached out to the artist, Monica Ahanonu, for a portrait of her own. Karen sent Monica the colour palette of the office, so she was able to make it work perfectly for the space.
Phoebe Robinson is a powerhouse. You likely recognise her as the comedian, writer, and actress who has made you laugh through 2 Dope Queens (the podcast and the HBO special), her two books, and more, and she’s just getting started. As her recently formed production company, Tiny Reparations, began to grow, she found she wanted a space to work outside of her Park Slope apartment.
“I needed to put on my big-girl pants and get an office outside the home,” says Phoebe. “Because this is my first production company, I really wanted to set the tone, too. I wanted my office to feel like such an exciting beginning. I want to look back at this in 10 years and be like, ‘Remember when we started in Industry City and I was stressed out in Edinburgh?'”
Phoebe Robinson with Karen Asprea
Phoebe’s decision to move into a new office space happened to correspond with an overseas comedy tour last fall. While that would normally be cause for serious panic, she got it done seamlessly with the help of a relationship that spans nearly 20 years. One of her best friends also happens to be an interior designer, Karen Asprea, who knows what Phoebe likes. “Phoebe knows I am going to get a project done and get it done correctly, and that is invaluable,” says Karen. “I love working together. Plus, we haven’t gotten into any arguments. I know what she wants!”
“Karen and I met at 18 years old,” says Phoebe. “We went to Pratt Institute together, so we’ve known each other a long time.” She had a simple list of requirements for Karen but knew she was in good hands without a lot of direction. “I asked her, ‘Can you make an office space where people can come and go? Can you make it nice and cozy?'” says Phoebe. “I saw Reese Witherspoon’s office and obviously I don’t have Reese money, but it was so warm and inviting. So, even though this has a cool industrial look, we still wanted to have nice vibrant colors and for the space to be somewhere people wanted to be.”
“Industry City has really great raw spaces, so we didn’t really need to do that much major construction,” says Karen. “The line between being at an office and being at home has continued to blur, so we wanted to make sure there was a lot of good open space, communal space, couches, and lots of places to sit. We didn’t want it to just be desks and closed office spaces. People spend so much time at work, so it should be a nice place to spend time.” Another nonnegotiable for Phoebe: a lot of natural light.
They had a pretty tight timeline—a mere three months from the start of construction to completion—but the closeness of the friends made it work. “We didn’t need to do too much heavy lifting. We just needed to divide the space into workable zones,” says Karen. Plus, Phoebe felt that being in Scotland during a major part of the design process ultimately made it less stressful. Her trust in Karen made it easy to feel like she was in good hands.
Completing the 1,300-square-foot space is not one, but two fabulous portraits of Phoebe. This one comes from her series of 2 Dope Queens specials based on the hit comedy podcast of the same name that she hosted with Jessica Williams.
“This was a really fun space to create,” says Karen. “Our tastes mesh really well. I like really muted palettes and simple, clean lines. Phoebe likes color and bold accents. Combining them is really great—it’s refined and elegant but still really fun.” Karen was mindful of the industrial essence of the space, so she used a lot of angular artwork to tie it all together and added pops of color to satisfy Phoebe. Plus, she knew Industry City was a perfect location for the flexibility and undisputed fact that her friend’s business is only going to grow.
If you’ve got a sweet note that says “Love you!” from Michelle Obama, of course you’re going to put that on full display. The side table is from Anthropologie, a place Karen loves to source bold, interesting pieces.
“Karen is really good at having a space represent the client’s personality and spirit,” says Phoebe. “I know she’s going to expand,” Karen adds.
Phoebe really wanted a pop of colour by way of a couch. She has a pink couch at home and wanted to continue the bold couch trend here too.
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