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Olia Gozha's Desk

Olia Gozha is the co-founder of a digital design studio called Congruity Hub where she and her team create templates and themes for sale on the Envato Marketplace.

When I found her workspace on one of my hunts, I instantly knew I wanted to share her story and her home office with my fellow desk hunters.

Let’s take a look.

Who are you and what do you do for a living?

I’m a designer. You won’t find any prefixes such as UX, UI, graphic, etc. here because I don’t think it is very important to grand yourself with a particular title. Being a designer includes all this stuff. These specializations are based on the main principles of design and psychology, only the media and tools are different. In my work, it is not the determinative thing as they are changing from time to time due to technological progress. Nevertheless, design basics stay always the same and you still need to keep them in mind while creating any sort of design work.

I’m also a co-founder of the digital design studio Congruity Hub where we create items (templates & themes) for sale exclusively on the Envato Marketplace. This position requires not only design, but management and marketing skills as well.

Can you tell me something about your desk setup?

For a long time, I was working in an environment that didn’t inspire me. Finally everything has changed and I have moved to a new apartment recently. The main requirement for my workplace was light. Light is crucial for being productive and clear thinking. So now I’m surrounded with plenty of light from the window. That’s why there is a lot of white in my work setup. Neutral walls and desk don’t make a pressure on my mind and I can think more objectively without a significant influence of the visual information of the surroundings. There aren’t any decorative things around since I love to keep things simple, except the painting of the panda on the wall. For a while, I didn’t understand the reason why I had bought it. I guess because I saw a similarity in it with myself. Sometimes I feel being immersed into my own world of thoughts and feel like this panda who turns his back to everyone and says “Give me some time to think”. The final benefit of this workplace are spectacular sunsets which I can see from the window right in front of my desk. It helps to relax and reboot my mind and feed my imagination.

Can you tell us something about the items on your desk?

As I love to keep everything structured, I’ll divide the work setup into three coherent groups to easily go through it.

The king of my workspace is a 27” iMac which I spent most of my time in front of it :) Occasionally, an iPhone and an iPad can be found on my desk for testing purposes. Sometimes I use Adobe mobile apps on my iPhone, for instance: Shape app is very handy if you want to capture some shapes from the real world and then use it in your design. From time to time I use a 13” Macbook Pro for writing tasks such as this interview. It is a perfect device to focus on one thing when you don’t need several windows to be open at once and you can freely stay on a comfortable couch (which the iMac is obviously not the best option for) :D

Enough about digital devices, there are more things on my desk dwelling at once. As you’ve noticed it is full of notes, notepads and other paper stuff. I’m one of those people who loves such kind of little cute tangible things. They help me to be more productive and boost creativity if needed as all ideas go through a paper stage first. Currently, the vast majority of my stationery is from Rhodia. A notebook brand which I adore for their paper quality and the warm orange color.

Knowledge is one of my key values, so books take an important place in my everyday routine. Experience proved that paper books are the best option for me. They encourage reading more than e-books, so you may call me an old-fashioned reader :) On this occasion, I’ll recommend the book that has made a huge impact on my perception of humans. It is The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal. If you are designing an experience for people you definitely need to add this book to your reading list for better understanding for those who will use your product.

Is there anything you would like to improve on this setup?

Apparently it would be a bookcase. As you can see, all books are placed on the sill at the moment. Nevertheless, I like such kinda clumsy stack of books. However, a bookcase would be a better option. It turned out to be a tough task for me to find a proper one that satisfied me entirely. So I’m still looking for something suitable.

Do you switch workspaces during your day? If yes, what’s the reason behind it?

Yes. Sometimes I’m switching to the office when our team has to be in one place for a meeting or I have to work with interns. In these cases, I’m taking my Macbook with me. By the way: Our office setup is also all in white. We use A different desk to the one I use at home but also white. The chairs are the same. Also white.

Do you have a favourite item on your desk?

The most favorite thing is an everyday leather planner called Blankster Chrono. Its time diagram helps me keep my workflow organized and avoid procrastination as everything is structured in advance and in a very convenient manner of a day circle from 9am till 9pm Another special thing is a yellow pencil sharpener in the form of a frog. If you’re not in the mood, just look at this smiling face and everything is getting better.

What are you doing to stay focused?

As everyone, I’m listening to music. For better concentration, I’m putting on my headphones (which are also white as everything else :D). It helps to immerse myself deeply into the creation process. Sometimes I can be in this state for a long time, even forgetting what time it is. So I’m addicted to my work.

It is hard to pick a certain music style. My playlist is a huge mix of everything. Nevertheless, music from 50-60’s takes a special place in this list. Love the joyful and positive spirit of those days engraved in classic rock’n’roll.

Is there something on your desk which helps you stay focused? What is it?

Self-motivation helps to stay on track. There is so much I want to do with my life, so I’m getting angry with myself if I’m starting to postpone scheduled stuff. In that exact moment, I go back to things which are really important to me. My current big goal is set as a wallpaper on my desktop as a reminder where I’m going.

What was your latest self improvement experiment?

The best thing I have done for myself so far is to get up early in the morning. Previously I thought I’m not an early bird. But things have changed and I’ve managed to reset myself. So now I’m getting up not later than 7am and it is a huge advantage to accomplish more tasks during the day and to feel more productive in general. Pretty awesome thing!

Where do you see yourself and your desk in the next 5 years?

Seriously, that’s a hard question. Life is so variable and so much can happen. And most of the time you can’t even see what’s coming next. That’s why I don’t make such plans and goals. Because you get stuck to an exact time frame and path which causes you to be blind for surprises.

I try to be flexible and open to new opportunities. However, I hope that everything that is happening in my life will bring change in a positive way as it has before for several years already. The most desirable achievement would be a large team focused on creating useful products for people, heading towards mutual goals and having an office in nature. For example somewhere in the woods.

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