Our footwear design partner site Project Bluefoot has invited the 2009 Nike Future Sole Finalists to each share their first-hand account on what it was like making the trip up to Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, OR for the annual Nike-sponsored footwear design competition for high school students run by D’Wayne Edwards, Design Director at Jordan Brand. The latest Finalist to tell their story is Matt DeAlmeida from Arlington, MA. Continue reading for DeAlmeida’s complete Future Sole recap as originally posted on Project Bluefoot, including exclusive concept sketches of his winning leaf-inspired Nike design.
Where to begin…
The trip was awesome (you could have answered that one yourself). I had never been on a plane before or really traveled more than a couple states from Massachusetts, so the whole plane experience was fun. There were so many inspiring things. The architecture lines at the airports, the planes themselves, and some of the other things I saw along the way were really cool. I kept myself productive sketching and throwing down lead for the 8 hour flights.
Once my Dad and I touched down in Portland we were driven to the hotel and checked in. There was a bunch of stuff waiting for me (hats, shirts, bag, sketchbook,etc.). That night the finalists had dinner with D’Wayne Edwards, Design Director at Jordan Brand. D’Wayne was very insightful with what he said over dinner, more than I can sum up here.
The next day we met up with D’Wayne at the NIKE campus. Dee Wells and Sean Williams from Obsessive Sneaker Disorder (OSD) were also in attendance. There were A LOT of things to be seen. Walking through the dimly lit offices was cool. Seeing the typical work environment, with sketches, models, and personals, was really interesting. We sleuthed through some work areas. I definitely had an advantage there. Being 6’3″ I could see over the cubicle walls. Fellow bigfoot Dee Wells from OSD shared my luxury as we peeked over the walls and turned to each other preaching about what we just saw. Then D’Wayne led us to the sample room.
Being able to see some of the future samples and some of the original concepts/design process for shoes already released was great. After flooding the sample room with drool we made our way to the presentation room. Michael Jordan was there that Thursday so they had the presentation room set up (Yeah, Michael Jordan was there. No big deal). We got to see the direction for 2010 and future products. There was also a separate room devoted to the Air Jordan 2010 flagship. The sketches were on display. It was interesting to see some of the primary concepts and how much they evolved.
After our tour we went to the Nike Employee Store. And after that, we met our mentors for the first time at dinner. The mentors were Marc Dolce, Denis Dekovic, Justin Taylor, and Mark Miner. It was great to put some faces to the work that inspired me to start drawing shoes over at Kicksguide. It was great talking to Marc, Denis, and everybody else. As you could imagine there was plenty to talk about.
The next morning we had breakfast with the mentors. Then JT led us around campus because most of the buildings were closed the first day and there was a certain security guard who didn’t want to let Mr. Edwards in. We met back up with our mentors and “went over our presentation”. Pretty much Marc just showed me some of his old stuff and showed me around his department. Across from Marc’s desk was Peter Fogg. Marc introduced me to him and was surprised I knew him (I said I was familiar with the Nike Ashiko and ACG Tallac). Peter showed me some of his work and started throwing samples of the Ashiko boot at Marc and me across the room. It was awesome because I would refer to someone’s work then bump into them.
I was alluding to some of Erik Arlen’s work and he ended up popping up to talk to Marc. The time for presentations was creeping up, so as we walked around I explained my design to Marc. He loved my inspiration from a leaf. So we went outside and started picking leaves out of a tree looking like crazy people. We made our way, with pockets full of leaves, to the presentation room. It was jumping. As my fellow Future Sole finalists Austin Jermacans and Daniel Gold presented, Marc and I were finalizing my presentation.
We started talking about my sole concept and how it functioned. Little did Marc know I brought all of my work for the project with me. I pulled it out and Marc was entranced flipping through all my sketches. He was also a little disappointed that I had been holding out on him. It was time for my presentation and Marc introduced me. He talked about how he is a NY guy who likes the Yankees (to keep this even remotely professional I’ll leave out my thoughts on the Yankees) and I’m a Sox fan. Once Marc got a few laughs he turned it over to me.
JT and I put up my poster (nobody else could reach) and I started my presentation. Ethan Dean went next and wrapped things up. The presentations were followed by what seemed like forever. Finally the fat lady got her vocal chords going and the winners were announced. Jason Mayden first announced the Jordan Category, which went to Austin Jermacans.
Then, the Nike Category which I was competing in was announced. I heard my name. I felt relieved and ecstatic. Jason congratulated us and gave us a chance to thank those who deserved it. Then on a more serious note, Jason reminded us of how blessed we are. He told us to try to reach out and help others. It got a little crazy after that. Marc was showing just about everyone who was there my sketches. Jason Petrie (Senior Designer at Nike Basketball) came through and Marc wasn’t shy about showing him either. Ironically enough I had Zenith Chance’s Alphaproject concept printed out as reference in my folder. He got a laugh out of that.
The room started to drain. Not really wanting to go, we loitered there for a little. We said our goodbyes and thank yous to D’Wayne and the mentors. The trip was finally over. Back to the drawing board. -Matt DeAlmeida, 2009 Nike Future Sole Winner
Visit our footwear design partner site Project Bluefoot for the only global footwear design competitions pairing up world-class companies with the next generation of designers.