Shelter: “I have photographed some beautiful shelters that are found on building sites all around Dubai.  They are the most beautiful examples of architecture, made from just found materials. I was inspired to make one myself in my apartment — I call it my office!”

Katrin Greiling, designer and photographer

Katrin Greiling’s work as a designer has taken her to the deserts of the UAE and further east still to the jungles of Indonesia. The Stockholm-based Munich native’s designs often have Nordic bones, but they’re made by hand in small workshops thousands of miles away. Her work as a photographer — an intended hobby that has morphed into a career — is also in high demand. But what makes the mind of this multi-disciplinary, globetrotting creative tick?

As a child, Greiling was always artistic, but she cites Donald Judd’s functional-minded work as initially sparking her interest in design. After high school in Munich, Greiling enrolled in a carpentry course at the Carl Malmsten School, making a move to the southern Swedish island of Öland. Upon graduating from Konstfack, Greiling forewent a steady career in Stockholm, upping sticks and taking a post at a firm in Dubai. “It was weird to move from the established scene in Europe, but there were benefits,” she says.

Like: The move made her more independent as a designer, braver, and more willing to take risks. Dubai, she says, was an adventure for her. Through wayward exploring deep into the desert as well as Dubai’s dense building sites, Greiling started to build a huge library of photographs. “I was finding a new image of beauty,” she says and also realizing the virtues of a life behind the lens. Her camera began to allow her access to places otherwise out of bounds. These observations provided an entry point for her designs.

The designer moved back to Stockholm in 2009 but her work continues to propel her around the globe. What’s the most remote place design has taken her? On one trip to Indonesia, she heard about a highly skilled bamboo craftsman and decided she had to look him up. “I went on a bus for four hours through the jungle,” she says. “Then I got picked up on a motorbike and rode further into the jungle.” She arrived at a tiny village, completely on her own, met the guy, and tried to make herself understood; she thinks some of the villagers were a little shocked by her guts. But Greiling says her most exciting trip is still ahead of her. Here’s a look at 8 things that keep her moving forward.