There are a few perks that come along to designers: great, exciting, big stuff like international travel or sumptuous dinners in posh restaurants; small, everyday stuff like (for us) trays of soft white bread from one client, fruit cakes from another. You might get the occasional bottle of something as a thank you for a job well done, a favour or putting up with someone's second cousin's son on a work placement.
I remember once getting a mountain of Clubbiscuits left over from a "How many Club biscuit does it take to fill a Saab 900" competition and we once got to visit the Coronation Street set because we'd organised a conference in Granada's studios in Manchester.
But for me, there's almost always been one, perhaps unglamorous, perk I've enjoyed immensely and that is the opportunity to get a sneaky peek "behind the scenes". Doesn't really matter where; a factory or workshop; a bakery or farm, I don't care; they're all really interesting; partly because I think I'm nosey by nature and partly because these are all places usually out of bounds to anyone not involved in the business in question. Factories are especially interesting: regardless of how mundane the product a company produces, the chances are that the kit they need to produce it is big, complex, covered in control panels and miraculously transforms a bag full of granulated plastic into a perfectly machined length of something we all need.
And so I've started a new Flickr set to record these visits. Wish I'd started it years back because there have been many missed opportunities for interesting photos. But I didn't so never mind. It kicks off with a trip to a plastic extruder and the roof of a new supermarket.