In our series, Job Perks, creators share little learnings, fun habits and other endearing peculiarities from their daily lives on the job.
Yogita Agrawal is the founder of Ware Innovations, a design lab that works with various materials like marble and clay. She studied Industrial Design at New York’s Parsons School of Design. Here, she speaks to us about holidaying with her designer’s eye and returning with a digital photo library of design details from around the world.
A habit I’ve developed over time on my travels is photographing design details of objects and places. I didn’t realise that it was a singular habit until I got back from a holiday to Scandinavia a few years ago. I visited Sweden and Denmark — basically design heaven — and when I got back, my colleague at the studio asked for pictures of where I went. I pulled up my photo gallery to find pictures of doorknobs, little light fixtures, and design details of a shelf. These were details I was really excited about, but I realised it’s not something everyone is — and not something everyone does either. She said, “There are no photos of you”, and I was like, “Yeah, but this is the interesting stuff I saw!”
I’ve been doing this for the past three-four years now. For instance, I’ll look at how a table is put together and take a photo from underneath it. I remember in Copenhagen, I went to a public toilet that had the most interesting doorknobs on every single door and interesting latches to lock the doors. They looked like they were historically inspired. In Superkilen Park, in the city’s Nørrebro neighbourhood, I spotted a kid riding down a slope on his scooter. The level of detail — the rubberised grey floor, which covered the undulated landscape, and the white lines that exaggerated its contours — was fascinating.
Design museums are another place you find a lot of curious objects that people look at as art, but even in terms of product design, they offer a lot of insight into the making of these objects. I tend to photograph a lot of window displays that use interesting materials too. In London, I saw a vase with crazy iridescent papers, for instance.
Another good example was in Hampi, Karnataka, where structures are carved out of monolithic rocks. One of the temples had an interesting musical feature — when you tap on it, it makes sounds — I spent a lot of time inspecting that to see how it works.
I tend to hone in on these details and take quick photos of them in an attempt to capture a sudden spark of inspiration. Sometimes when you look at something you get a million ideas of what could possibly be done with it. It’s different that you’ll probably never go back and look at the photograph, but at least you have it. It’s like a library for when you’re like, “I need some design inspiration, I need something that’ll really blow my mind.”