QUIXOTIC’s small-batch notebooks are the perfect place to write and sketch your heart out
Like many before me, I once fell in love with Aphrodite. Perhaps my story is somewhat unique, as it happened not from some vision or admiration of a marble statue, but in an unlikely place: an Athenian stationary shop on Kolokotroni Street. Her visage was pixelated. It may have been this particular rendering that made Aphrodite’s face stick with me. That, and the fact that she was printed atop one of my very favorite items: a notebook. As a writer and obsessive list-maker, I’ve always loved notebooks and journals. One goes with me wherever I go, and they’re frequently my souvenir of choice when traveling. It follows that when I discovered Quixotic notebooks, by way of Aphrodite’s soft gaze, I fell in love.
Made independently in Athens, Quixotic is the brainchild of designer Naomi Heretakis. All of Quixotic’s notebooks are printed on recycled paper and produced locally. Inspired by the notebooks children carry to school, the size is perfect for those who want ample space for their ramblings, but also need something light enough to carry around the city.
I spoke with Naomi about all things Quixotic, why writing by hand is here to stay, and the inspiration behind her quirky designs. Without further ado…
Tell me a bit about yourself and how Quixotic was born. Did you notice, perchance, there aren’t many Greek notebook manufacturers?
I am Greek Italian, and went to a French school (here in Greece). I studied graphic design at Vakalo Art & Design.
I’ve always had a love for stationery, especially notebooks. I use notebooks to process dreams, emotions and capture ideas. To-do lists are also helpful for a person that gets overwhelmed easily! I love the idea that each one of us can personalise their own notebook: draw, cut, pin pictures, bills..etc. Even on vacation, I take a notebook with me on the beach. I love how it might get wet from the sea or gather sand in between the pages. All those elements make a notebook yours, and a sort of a companion.
Visiting museums and shops in Athens, I realised that there weren’t enough products that had a greek identity and were innovative. We have such a rich culture and do not pay homage to it enough. I found a window of opportunity and decided to create an alternative version of the typical greek notebook that schoolchildren use in Greece. Instead of a plain blue cover, I decided to use classic Greek elements (such as the Parthenon, embroidery, the Linear B). The first 50 notebooks I printed I gave out to friends and family. And with a little encouragement from my mother I decided to start trying my luck in shops. The feedback so far has been very positive.
What about the process behind Quixotic? I know they’re made in Greece… tell me more!
The quality and thickness of the paper are important to me. It is a recycled paper that comes from a greek provider. The printing and binding are done in Greece as well. I am all for buying from small producers and artisans and keeping it local.
Tell me about your name, Quixotic, and why you chose it.
Quixotic by definition means extravagantly chivalrous or romantic; idealistic and impractical – pertaining to Don Quixote. For example, nowadays a video club might be considered quixotic since it perpetuates ideals that are outdated.
That relates to the matter of us not using paper anymore but using electronic devices to write down things. I believe nothing compares to writing down ideas on paper, just like nothing compares to reading a book in paper form versus reading in on an iPad.
What’s in store for the future of Quixotic?
I am planning on creating other stationery products. I have some postcard designs lined up. I am open to any possibility since this is a passion project for me and I get to decide what to do next. I would even like to create clothes if I find a clear vision and a way to execute it.
What Greek artists (alive or dead..) inspire you most and why? If any 🙂
I like Chatzikyriakos Gkikas, Giannis Kounelis, and Lucas Samaras, but cannot say I draw from them.
How do you choose the images and motifs you decide on for the covers?
I am inspired by current trends, modern art, fashion, graphic design, the internet culture etc.
I gather pictures that I like, from the internet, museums or even the street (mostly for architectural elements). I take these classic greek symbols and try to marry them with a more modern aesthetic.
For instance, for the gold collection, I wanted to do something a bit more playful and kitsch. I fell in love with the gold paper when I saw it and decided then and there that it would be part of my new collection. I wanted to use Aphrodite as an element for a long time. In order to bring her to “today” I decided to pixelated her and surround her with emojis as this is the current way of “expressing” emotions.
For the “Caryatids” notebook I was inspired by old scarves, more specifically Versace. Their patterns repeat themselves in a diamond shape. There is always architectural elements, a frame, and sometimes greek symbols. The very logo of Versace is the Medusa. (I love that logo!).
What do you think of the current creative landscape in Athens? Getting better or worse? I know it’s become a hot topic since the crisis began… but I’m curious on your input.
I love seeing what other designers create! I always support them any way I can. During this time of crisis, we need creativity. We need it for culture. We need it to process where we are at. We need freshness and innovation.
I believe there aren’t enough opportunities for young creators in Greece. The legislation seems to make it impossible for anyone that has an idea and wants to materialise it to do so. I also believe that the system in Greece is flawed as many people in positions of power do not use their platform to showcase young creatives’ work. I am not sure why that is though. I hope more people come out with their work. It is always exciting and inspiring to see!
For more news on QUIXOTIC, follow their Instagram @quixotic_gr
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