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Inside Aleksandra Zee’s Dreamy, Desert-Inspired Textile and Art Collections

Joshua Tree–based artist Aleksandra Zee, best known for her wood artwork, impeccable style, and calming desert-meets-modern aesthetic, recently debuted a new body of work, Let The Light In, and a textile collection with Soukie Modern. Formerly based in Oakland, the artist and designer has designed pieces and installations for the likes of MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa and Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa, and is busy masterminding a future outdoor art collection using metal and concrete. Ahead, Zee dishes about her new art and textile collections and shares a few key design tips and tricks for any space—including designing with meaning and purpose.  

We are such big fans of your work. Tell us about your move from Oakland to Joshua Tree and how it inspires you?

Aleksandra Zee: “My husband, Antrom, and I have always wanted to move down to the desert. We initially bought land in Joshua Tree in 2017 with the hope of building a home from the ground up. While that ended up being a bit more daunting, in 2023 we decided to start looking at homes in the area. After a few months, we found our actual dream home: a 1970s ranch-style house with a massive 1,800-square-foot studio space for my woodshop. We knew it was perfect for us. The desert has always called us. We both are endlessly inspired by the desert landscape and life here. We know in our bones this was the right choice.”

Describe your new collection, Let The Light In

AZ: “My new collection is about finding beauty in the prosaic, celebrating the slowness of desert life, and allowing for space and time to heal. It captures a period of growth, evolution, and new beginnings. Bringing the literal and metaphorical light to the forefront. When we moved to the desert, I felt a deep shift in my creative process and a brand new inspiration that came from experiencing my first summer in the desert heat. The material is all wood, and some pieces have a limewash.”

Zee’s new wood art collection. Photo by Antrom Kury.

How does the new collection differ from your existing pieces?

AZ: “My favorite aspect of the new collection is how delicate each piece is. The wood is tenderly held together and light can pass through it. Something that was really important to me while creating the work was focusing on the light and the shadows each piece plays with. My work in the past is fixed, these new pieces interact with the space, come out from the wall, and let light act as another medium, changing as the day goes on and the sunlight shifts.”

Zee’s new Let The Light In collection embraces the slowness of desert life. Photo by Antrom Kury.

How long does it take to create a piece from start to finish?

AZ: “For the larger pieces my start to finish is about 5 days, but that can change if I change my mind about the direction and color. Timelines are never ever the same with any piece because I focus so much on exploring and playing instead of planning.”

Zee’s collection of new wood art. Photo by Antrom Kury.

We love the new rug collection. What was it like collaborating on designing textiles and what do you like most about the designs?

AZ: “We are so proud of the rugs. Taib Lotfi, the owner of Soukie Modern, approached me over a year ago about doing a collaboration. He had messaged me and told me he had something for me and asked for my address. When I got this huge box, I opened it, and inside was a rug he had made that was in one of my designs. He then asked if I wanted to collaborate on a collection. I was beside myself and honored that he wanted to mix our crafts. It was an instant ‘yes’ for me. We then worked on which of my pieces we wanted to create into textiles, and what those textiles would be. We both really loved the idea of the [pattern being defined by] the low-pile and high-pile and the change in the height of the wool. Each rug in the collection is handmade in Morocco.”

Aleksandra Zee and Taib Lotfi pictured with their new collaboration. Photos by Hope Leigh.

How do you envision the rugs in a space?

AZ: “What I love most about the rugs—aside from how beautiful and soft they are—is how versatile they are. You can hang one of the smaller ones on the wall and it instantly becomes artwork. Or, use it as a runner for your entry or hallway. It is functional art that truly as with all handmade Moroccan rugs, gets better with age and use. They are fully machine-washable. It’s an honor to work with Taib. These pieces are modern heirlooms, and I still cannot believe they are real.”

Aleksandra Zee X Soukie Modern rugs in Zee’s own home (left), and in Joshua Tree (right). Photos by Hope Leigh. 

How do you feel about experimenting with other mediums?

AZ: “I am already dreaming up what is next material-wise. I love exploring and creating. My next venture is working on creating artwork that can exist outside and endure the elements. I have a few ideas cooking that I am looking forward to creating over the summer.”

Go-to design spaces and escapes?

AZ: When I am not in the studio, we love to go and explore nature. Joshua Tree National Park is basically our backyard and any moment we can, we sneak away for a walk or a hike. It’s my favorite way to decompress and spend free time. Living here so far feels like my own little paradise.

Otherwise, Santa Monica Proper Hotel for interior design and art, and Amangiri in Utah. It’s the most stunning property I have ever visited. From the architecture and the landscape, it truly took my breath away. The Joshua Tree House Tucson is a stunning escape in the desert. And, anywhere on the coast of Italy.”

Zee’s Let The Light In collection. Photo by Antrom Kury. 

Your design tips and tricks?

AZ: “Who cares what anyone else thinks? Fill your home with what you love. Think in terms of longevity; invest in certain pieces that will last for a long time. I love to pay homage to the landscape and surroundings of the area. In our home, we wanted the desert to be reflected in how we styled it and how it is functional from the colors to the flow of the layout. Texture is a great way to add layers without overdoing it with decor. For me personally, I try not to have too much stuff—just well thought-out pieces, and lots of function. I love a good design with function.”

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