“Alexandra Climent was first exposed to the beauty of certain species of exotic wood while in the jungles of Central and South America. It was born out of her fervent belief that showcasing such magnificent species of wood is contingent solely upon responsible and sustainable sourcing. Frequently going on excursions to gather naturally felled lumbar and to dig up stumps from the jungle floor yielded many rarely seen, rarely worked exotic species. Each piece represents the beauty that nature has bestowed upon us, sourced and delivered sustainably. Each piece is selected, designed, worked, and finished by Alexandra at her wood shop in Brooklyn, NY.”
JOURNEY TO THE JUNGLE
My woodworking journey started in 2008 long before I ever picked up a tool. While in college, I was working for a marine construction company as their secretary. My job was to enter bills, keep accounts up to date and do payroll. I wasn’t bad at it, but I was certainly wasn’t great at it. I was bored and unfocused. My curiosity peaked when I saw a need for high quality sawn lumber that was not readily available for jobs the company would bid on. I decided to make it my mission to find this lumber directly from the source, hoping that I could get it cheaper than what it was being sold for in the states and hopefully, my employer would be my first client. Before I knew it, I had established a business to import lumber to the United States from South America. Everything I started to learn about the wood was incredibly fascinating. The reason it was in such high demand for marine work was because of it’s strength and durability. Termites couldn’t even penetrate this stuff and when you would throw it in the water, it would sink. On my excursions to South America, I visited over 50 concessions throughout different countries. I never knew that my intentions would take such a turn once I started learning about forestry practice and seeing the beauty of these exotic woods.
We all know the rainforest is disappearing, but seeing it first hand is something that I was not able to put in the back of my mind. I thought constantly about all the trees that were being cut down and how the land is constantly being cleared for the building of cattle farms, logging, agriculture and oil companies’ searches for new lines. I also thought about the wood itself. Many species I had come across I had never seen before; many never even exported for purposes that would show the wood’s beauty. Seeing the potential beauty in this nature started to consume me.
I had become close with many locals in the areas I would visit, many times working with their government in order to explore importing laws and figuring out how to abide by the rules of that particular area. While visiting one potential concession on the eastern coast of South America, I was lead deep into the forest and saw hundreds of stumps once coming upon the owner’s land. The owner, and now friend, explained to me that their forestry commission had strict practices in place to ensure the sustainability and future growth of the area’s forest. He told me that for each tree that was cut down, a stump was left. The forestry commission would come in and count the stumps and for each stump that was left, a new tree would be replanted. This would flow in a cycle that would make the forest able to completely regenerate. Once all the stumps were counted, they would be burned, seeds would be planted and new growth would start to take place.
Upon returning to NYC I thought; what if instead of burning the stumps in order to clear space to plant new trees, we could somehow get them out of the jungle and I could import them to the states. I knew this idea would be completely foreign to the concession owners. So far no one had an interest in any of this wood unless they were buying huge logs to be turned into construction material.
Nine years later I am working with this extremely rare and beautiful hardwood that I was able to successfully get to the states, sustainably. With each new piece I make and with each new grain I uncover, I think about how lucky I am to get to expose this wood to the rest of the world through my designs. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Visit: “Current Causes” section to read about new jungles that I am exploring and gathering wood from along with more in depth stories from the beginning of my career.