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How we remember things: Alexandra's desk

How we remember things: Alexandra's desk

This interview is conducted by Monk our online director.

Hey Alexandra, thanks for contributing to our SEND DESKIES series. Like everyone who works at Omoi, you've got a distinctive personal style, effortlessly layering a dazzling jewelry collection with your black ink tattoos and a refined clothing palette centering washed-out blacks and neutrals. You often bring cute snacks in to share with everyone, and enjoy cute stationery and foreign film. When you're not at Omoi you work as a wildlife educator at Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford, New Jersey.

In other words [laughing], I'm a chaotic person, with many different things happening.

Okay, okay, so I feel like your ~interests~ are indeed reflected in your desk space–I'm getting more 'romantic' than 'chaotic'—but can you tell us a bit about what's important to you when it comes to your desk?

Hah! I think my current mode is “romantic chaos” (I’m working on a research/art project that centers on medieval Byzantine romances). The most important thing for me when it comes to a desk is to have enough space to both work and have all the materials and books around me that I want to just grab without looking for them while I’m in the zone. My desk space is primarily used for painting and working on research for my art projects and installations; I need easy access to books, tools and reference materials as well as that nice big open space to lay a piece of paper. I tend to stack books and add and subtract from those piles based on whatever my mind is focused on that day or week just in case I want to look at a certain thing. It’s organized chaos, no one else gets the organization, but there’s a method to the way all my books are kept - I have a few thousand all around the house.

Alexandra's supply-lined desk and workspace

A closer look at a stack of books, cups of brushes, and a pile of notebooks...

Alexandra's yStudio brass pen and matching glittering brass nail polish

What's your most used item from the shop? What's your favorite?

Right now my most used item from Omoi is my Kinto Travel Tumbler (17oz of course and “coyote” for that earth tone). I recently decided to make more coffee at home (saving money to travel to Greece to see my fam!) and this tumbler is easily the best I’ve ever owned. It keeps things hot all day and I can throw my favorite Coffee Milk Tea bag into it and be on the move. A close second is the Brassing Rollerball Pen from yStudio. It’s just a beautiful tool and fits in with my black/gold aesthetic so well, it’s always in my pocket.

What's your most used or favorite item that's not from the shop?

Alexandra's custom leather birding glove

I’m gonna throw you a wildcard here – my favorite regular use item is my short falconry glove made from black dyed deerskin by a maker in England who hand cuts and sews the gloves. This is the glove I use to work with the American Kestrel and the Broad-winged Hawk at the refuge, the two birds I spend the most time with. It’s one of the most beautiful and well-made tools I have ever owned. And still in that black and gold aesthetic since the d-ring on it is brass! It’s something I treasure, and it was also the first glove I ever purchased for myself back in February 2020 when I was hoping to have the opportunity to train and work with Comet (the Kestrel).

What were the factors that made you decide to bring these things home and into your life?

I think I may have answered this question with the other questions a bit, but I’ll go into more detail – I try to bring objects into my life that are aesthetically pleasing to me, have functionality and will last me a long time. I’m not a fan of throw-away goods, not just for environmental reasons but also because I don’t enjoy cheaply made things.

I’ve grown up surrounded by family heirlooms (lots of jewelry of course being Greek) and I think that this has given me a great sense of the potential emotional and talismanic power of different objects and tools. I don’t have children, but there are children close to me in my life and I can imagine them one day with my yStudio pen or jewelry - or even passing on my glove to someone I’m mentoring at the refuge - and they then tell a story or have a memory of me based on those things, perhaps they share that with their children and the object lives on and gains power and relevance. I love the idea of “archiving” and imbuing things with meaning and history, and a lot of my creative work has centered on those ideas. Truthfully, I’m obsessed with the concept of memory and how we remember things and how that shapes us as individuals, and I suppose I’m always subconsciously doing things that feed into my creative work.

Let's zoom in on a corner of Alexandra's desk

This desk has a live bird!

On your desk, I'm seeing paint brushes and inks, lots of fiction books, and literally a bird.

I’ll start with the bird! His name is Ning Yi (named for a favorite character from a Chinese novel/show, as many at Omoi know, I’m a huge fan of wuxia and xianxia novels and dramas) and he’s a Namaqua Dove. I share my office/studio with several species of exotic finch, the dove, and an ornery female white king pigeon named Griffith (after the character from Berserk). When I’m working, I’m treated to lots of beeps, chirps, coos, and songs – and if you are ever on a zoom/video call with me, their big flight cages will be in the background while the pigeon flies around and knocks things over. They live in my studio/office because I also have cats, and we don’t need any bird murders happening!

As far as books go there’s an 80% non-fiction to 20% fiction ratio happening there – I don’t read too much fiction these days. There are a lot of anthropological studies on obscure Greek folk customs (a huge part of my work), some more heady philosophy and sociology stuff, a couple manga, some big art books and of course a copy of Dune.

The brushes, ink, pigments and whatnot are all for my painting – I mostly work on paper and since I don’t have a proper large artist studio anymore, I work small. I make a lot of my own paint, and recently have gotten into foraging for earth pigments, like ochres. My palette has traditionally been centered on black and gold (sensing a theme here?) but I expanded into reds and oranges in the last few years. The new project about Byzantine Romances I have been planning will be all blue and purple! Huge changes happening here…

All that being said I love drawing with pens, I love paper and I have tons of notebooks, pens and other wise from Omoi and very much have a problem containing my excitement (and wallet) when we get new stuff in. There’s a notebook for every different topic and idea, and one of my many notebook stacks is on the far corner of the desk.

And if you could blow a month's pay anywhere in the city, where would it be? (It doesn't have to be all in once place.)

This is a tough one! I would most likely take off to a cabin in the woods up in the Endless Mountains of PA if I had that kind of money – but staying in the city I’d probably hit up my friend Jadie who has an amazing jewelry line called Ecclesia to grab as much as I can and follow that up with a stop at Vestige in Fishtown. Probably spoil myself with Hello Donuts and Forin Coffee every morning with Suraya for dinner. On my way to work I’d make a stop at Mayflower Bakery and buy a million pastries to share with the staff! I’d also stock my pantry with imported Greek groceries from N & E Agora, where the grumbliest old Greek man barely greets you when you walk in, recalling lots of fond memories of my father’s friends when I was a child. Truthfully though, I’d probably just end up at Book Haven on Fairmount and blow all the money on books before I got anywhere else.

Anything you'd like to add?

No, I think I’ve said more than enough :)

the dove and the sketchbook


Shop items pictured:

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