The office supplies everyone would want to have – or steal.
Toronto-based artist Dori Pankowska of Wask Studio reimagines everyday items that we use at home and work to make mundane tasks more fun (and weird).
Her designs usually involve adding a quirky and/or clever take on an item. For instance, a binder clip comes with hands that gives hugs, while a heat-shaped paper clip is heartbroken whenever it’s not in use, but becomes whole once you use it.
Pankowska’s collection also includes other nifty products such as the Unmistakable Pencil, the 2-tips Matches, and the Heat of the Moment Candle.
We recently had a quick chat with Pankowska to know more about her and her work.
Tell us a little about your background. How did Wask Studio come about?
“I’ve always been excited over weird and original ideas of all kinds, but a few years ago I started learning about making physical products. After my first time making a few small items, I decided it would make the most sense to create a separate place where my future product ideas can all live together in harmony.
So for a while I started planning what the brand would be like and what it would be named, and I really wanted a short but unique name. Wask is my mom’s maiden name, and she’s always been super creative – I think I get a lot of it from her – so the name just felt right!”
The items in your collection are so unique and quirky! Where do you usually find inspiration for such designs?
“Inspiration can come from anywhere, such as browsing my social media feeds or seeing a cool item in a store, but I do find it difficult to find specific sources of inspiration for stationery items and other similar things.
I feel as though it’s a bigger niche in places like Japan, so I still feel like I have a lot to discover in terms of all the ideas out there that have been done so far.”
Please briefly take us through your creative process. How do you go from concept to final product?
“This might depend on the product, as some are more complex than others.
For example, the Unmistakable Pencil was a bit more difficult. It’s a pencil where the eraser is actually replaced by a pink crayon of the same shape and colour. I got the idea for the pencil one day when I decided to brainstorm ways to make a new type of pencil. I’ve thought of many cool pencil ideas before, but nothing I could feasibly make or find a manufacturer for, until this idea came to mind.
“The first step was finding a manufacturer to provide white pencils with the Wask logo stamped on, but the crayon part was handmade. I had to buy/order various types of crayons to find one that wasn’t as soft as regular kids’ wax crayons, and then I had to make a mould of the eraser shapes and make the crayon pieces. I would remove the rubber eraser from the pencils and insert and glue the crayon piece into it.”
You’ve just released two new items: the 2-tips Matches and Heat of the Moment Candle. Can you tell us the story behind these products?
“I wanted to make matches that resemble cotton swabs so I made them double-ended using white tips. I also considered painting the sticks white, but that wasn’t as simple as I hoped, but I like the contrast between the wood colour and the white as they are now.
The Heat of the Moment Candle (handmade by me) is probably the first ever thermochromic candle that changes colour from heat. It’s black, drips white wax while it’s burning, and later cools back to black. I had to experiment with different types of thermochromic pigment to find the right temperature setting, as well as find a candle wax that is super drippy to make a dramatic effect.
The reason no one’s ever made these before is probably because they might actually emit dangerous fumes, so I had to add a product disclaimer on the product page; it’s probably best to light it outdoors.”
Lastly, do you have a favourite out of your entire collection?
“I think my favourites are always changing, but right now my favourite is the Unmistakable Pencil because I’m waiting for a chance to see someone use the ‘eraser’ without knowing what’s coming… Also I also fear that maybe one day I’ll forget about the crayon eraser as well and fool myself. That would be a weird day.”