Want to know what it’s like to work from Industrious’ latest pop-up?

Chicago-based photographer and influencer Sveta Damiani (@sdamiani) recently spent the day working in Industrious Willis Tower, home to Industrious and ROOM’s Workspace Galleries. These unique, modular units give members additional options when they need a quiet place to take a meeting by phone or meeting.

We talked to Damiani about what her experience was like in the space, what drew her to photography, and why in her ideal world she’d go to the office two or three times a week.

Damiani takes in the view of downtown Chicago from Industrious Willis Tower. (Courtesy Sveta Damiani)
There’s plenty of room at the table for large group meetings. (Courtesy Sveta Damiani)
The cafe at Industrious Willis Tower is regularly stocked with coffee, breakfast, and snacks. (Courtesy Sveta Damiani)
Comfortable banquette seating for lunch breaks. (Courtesy Sveta Damiani)
An office with a view of downtown Chicago. (Courtesy Sveta Damiani)

Tell us about yourself. What sparked your interest in photography?

I’m originally from Moscow, Russia. I moved to the States about seven years ago. I started doing photography as I was just out and about, exploring. This is when my Instagram started to grow and my audience. I decided to do this full time: Work with brands and smaller businesses to create content for them, do photography, and all things social media.

Recently, it’s been mostly interior photography and product photography. I like working with products a lot because you can take your time and you can move things around. There’s no pressure — nobody’s waiting for you.

What does a normal workday look like for you?

Usually I will wake up then spend a couple hours catching up on emails. I will post something on my Instagram, on my Stories. Depending on the day, I might go out and get some new content for my Instagram, go to a coffee shop or a restaurant or make something at home. If I have a shoot that day, I will do that shoot. Then I usually do my editing in the evening.

Damiani’s desk for the day. (Courtesy Sveta Damiani)

How is being at Industrious Willis Tower different from your normal workday routine?

First of all, it was really nice being away from my home because this year, obviously, I couldn’t go to any coffee shops! I was working from home. My husband was working from home — still is — and we live in a tiny space. He has a lot of conference calls.

It was really nice to just have my own space. I felt like I was more productive because it was quiet and nobody was distracting me. I got a lot more done.

What was it like to work with the Workspace Galleries in particular?

I just loved it. They were comfortable. They had everything that I needed. There was no noise coming from anywhere else. I could be on my calls; it was just very peaceful.

Damiani works from one of ROOM’s modular meeting rooms. (Courtesy Sveta Damiani)

What was your impression of the space?

Because I’m a very visual person, I get inspired by pretty spaces. Being in a place that’s designed so well, with beautiful furniture and a lot of plants and nice views really helps keep me motivated.

I loved the design — just being surrounded by all the beautiful things. I loved all the common areas, where you can just take a break and read one of the coffee table books for a little bit. And I loved all the big windows, the views, the natural light. That’s a big plus for me, having natural light.

Willis Tower is the second tallest building in North America. (Courtesy Sveta Damiani)

How did you feel about coming into the location to work?

I felt really safe, which was very important to me right now; I’m still trying to be very careful about COVID-19. I was really happy to see how things were very clean and that there were hand sanitizers everywhere. The space was not very crowded. When I got to my office, I had a gift basket with a mask and a small, portable hand sanitizer. That was a really nice touch.

I also liked the rule that you’re not allowed to take off your mask and eat in the public areas. You have to take all your food and beverages to your workspace and eat there. That made me feel very safe.

What would your ideal work routine be?

I would say coming in maybe two, three times a week because there’s days when I’m out and about.

Some people don’t understand how much it affects you, working from a place that’s not your home. I think it’s very important for freelancers to find their work-life balance; having a place where you can go and still have a structured day and have a feel that you are at work, not at your home, is very important to me. I think freelancers need to pay more attention to that because when you work from home all the time, it’s easy to get lost in time or get distracted by things or even you don’t have any boundaries when you work, when you relax. I really appreciate having a place like Industrious close by.

I also think that in the future, when the pandemic is over, it’s a great way to meet people, even if you work for yourself. The community aspect of that is very nice.