Welcome to the “Designer Studio", a behind-the-scenes look into the workings of agoy and what it takes to create the next-generation of yoga towels.
I’m Howard Napper, yoga teacher, creative director and founder of agoy, below is the original list of design features we set out to achieve related to grip. I’ve also written a short story about the evolution of a yoga mat and how trying to solve a common problem in yoga ended up becoming an obsession.
It might feel like the humble yoga mat has been around forever, but the concept only came about in the mid-1980’s when someone decided to use a section of carpet underlay for their practice. Before a yoga mat became a thing, yogis would simply use a piece of fabric or even just the bare floor.
I’m convinced that the comfort provided by this new fundamental piece of yoga equipment played a central role in the rise in yoga’s popularity throughout the 80’s and 90’s. But perhaps the most interesting and influential thing about the introduction of a yoga mat was that it provided grip.
The newfound grip of a mat suddenly gave yogis the ability to go deeper in their practices and as a result trends in yoga quickly started moving towards stronger and more dynamic styles.
However, as the yoga world became more physically challenging and studios became hotter these rubberised mats that provided grip when dry soon started to slip once moisture built up in the room or on your body.
In an attempt to solve the annoying problem of slipping when you needed grip the most, the early 2000’s saw the introduction of the first wave of yoga towels. These colourful microfiber towels were designed to be placed on top of a yoga mat as a way of absorbing moisture, the only problem was that they had little to no natural grip.
Now I agree normal people don’t and shouldn’t pay much attention to things like this, but as a yoga teacher, product designer, and perhaps more importantly someone who loves to do yoga, I have to admit a problem like this can easily become an obsession.
What if there was a way to produce something that could give you the moisture-absorbing benefits of a towel and at the same time provide you with the kind of traction you get from a mat?
I found myself stress testing fabrics, applying different grips, designing and re-designing patterns, all in the pursuit of trying to create the kind of base for yoga that would grip from the beginning to end – wet or dry.
At times it felt impossible - but have to say that what we ended up with is possibly the most exciting thing in yoga since the invention of the yoga mat. A range of next-generation yoga towels that we couldn’t resist naming after the grippiest animal around – the “Gecko”.