Day 4 of the PENSOLE footwear design program penned by Brent James features some special guests including Brian Bednarek (Mesh01), Cubby Golden (Nike Footwear Designer), and Tony Hardman (Nike Footwear Designer) sharing their stories. PENSOLE instructor Matt Rhoades gives the students a crash course in sketching while D’Wayne Edwards caps off the day with a late night chat. Continue reading PENSOLE Day 4: Time To Get Busy (By Brent James)…
This morning we are greeted by Brian Bednarek of Mesh01, a newly created design online community. We have a lot to thank him for because he provided the medium with which we were given the opportunity to apply for this program. He comes to give us some more insight to the capabilities of Mesh01 and get some feedback from us on what we would like to see. Brian introduces the term Crowd Sourcing, which is a system that will likely replace the current way of doing things in the design world. The idea is to employ many minds to achieve a single task. Remember the saying two minds are better than one? What happens if that two becomes two dozen? This concept is being used in tasks from interpreting complex consumer data to developing a cure for cancer. Companies are beginning to see that innovation often comes from outside the walls of their building rather than inside. Mesh01 uses this concept and applies it to design. The site holds various competitions in the categories of footwear, apparel, accessories, and equipment. They often offer cash prizes, but most students are especially interested in opportunities to gain experience and to get their names out there in the design community. I would like to thank Brian personally on behalf of the PENSOLE students.
Next, Matt Rhoades offers up crash courses in sketching. Alternating between sketch basics and advanced techniques, students are more or less encouraged to pop in where they can find space in the class room. It is a good opportunity for even the “sketching beasts” to go back to the basics of warm up exercises and learn a thing or two from an experienced product designer. Believe me, its hard to slow your self down and try to draw an entire page of circles, but I always immediately tell my self I need to do it more often because the resulting sketches are so much better. Then we move on to layout tips and quick rendering techniques. The goal is to get all your ideas on paper in a quick and expressive way. Matt describes it, as he is giving us the tools to sketch, as the options to use to chose while creating our own sketching style. The goal is to give the view just enough information to cause the view to be curious. Sometime it just takes leaving some information out to invite a view curiosity. That word has become a lasting theme here in the University of Oregon studio.
Now it is time to put the pencil to the paper to create our design story. Because we had begun research into what our users need, we can now attempt to feed those needs. At this point sketches are very loose and no idea is a bad idea. The walls begin to fill with a bit more handmade energy. I start to flush out my ideas according to my preliminary findings of IKEA, trying to create design elements in which to tie the project back to the brand. Designing a “house shoe” may sound a little mundane, but the challenge is in how you can make the product better. The direction I continue to gravitate towards involves constructing the shoe once you receive it. Though this solution seems logical, but the goal is to vomit all the ideas in your head, which will help validate the design direction.
After filling several pages in our sketch book, we are instructed to copy the images and begin posting our work on the walls with our minds. The catch is that we’ve been dared to cover the walls completely with images, sketches, and post-its to allow others to see where we are thinking. The studio is well on the way.
Today our visitors are Cubby Golden and Tony Hardman of Nike, both names familiar to many of us. D’Wayne had reminded us of Tony’s journey into the Nike community. While Tony has become an extremely talented designer, it took him 10+ interviews to be hired. It sounds as if the problem was not necessarily his skills, but potentially his timing. IF I have learned one thing throughout graduate school, its that timing is everything. The only catch is you cannot sit back and wait for your time to come. You must be always on the ready, always advancing your talents because the truth is if you are not, there is someone who is going to take your spot. Don’t sleep.
At the end of today, a few of us are invited to participate in an interview on OSD, Obsessive Sneaker Disorder, a site devoted to the sneaker community. They are curious to hear what D’Wayne Edwards is up to. Very few know because he always “moves in silence because you can get more done that way”. The host had heard about the program and wanted to hear what was going on in Portland. D’Wayne speaks, but the real words are coming from the students and their stories. In the room we have a 15-year-old aspiring designer (and rapper) and a 37-year-old embarking on a second career. There is a gentleman from London and a young lady from Miami. Each of us has a unique story of falling in love with sneakers/design and that is what makes the sneaker community so strong. Our passions come from our experiences and people love to tell their story. What makes it even stronger is that people love to HEAR others story lines to sneaker culture. We wrap up the conversation with some advice from the host of the show. He wants us to make sure we show our appreciation for the opportunity we have been given. It sounds as if all the stories we have told were not enough to prove that. Then it hits me, it’s extremely hard to put into words how important this program is to us. I always revert to an old saying, “This is something I will tell my grandchildren about.” How grandpa sat across the table with world famous designers and developed relationships with some of the world’s most talented people. We will continue to digest the experience of this life changing event. But for now, it’s time to get busy!
-Written by Brent James
READ PENSOLE DAY 5: ROAD TRIP!!!
Check out the complete “PENSOLE: By Brent James” series:
> PENSOLE Day 1: Sizing Up The Competition
> PENSOLE Day 2: Are You Ready For Some Footwear?
> PENSOLE Day 3: Get Your Feet Dirty
> PENSOLE Day 4: Time To Get Busy
> PENSOLE Day 5: Road Trip!!!
> PENSOLE Day 6: Design Explosion
> PENSOLE Day 7/8: The Weekend
> PENSOLE: Day 9: Design Is How It Works
> PENSOLE Day 10: Life In Technicolor
> PENSOLE Day 11: The Final Push
> PENSOLE Day 12: Taking It All In
> PENSOLE Day 13: It Doesn’t End Here
Brent James will be exclusively penning for CounterKicks a daily recap of his experience in the PENSOLE Footwear Design School being held June 21-July 2, 2010, at the University of Oregon, instructed by D’Wayne Edwards (Design Director at Jordan Brand) and Matt Rhoades (Former Creative Director at Nike). Follow CK on Twitter and Facebook for breaking sneaker news and exclusive info.