Day 6 of the inaugural PENSOLE footwear design program at the University of Oregon brings with it a swarm of current and former Nike employees including: Jason Mayden, Cubby Golden, Marc Dolce, Mark Miner, Ashley Payne, Antoni Hope, Emily Sawamura, Denis Dekovic, Andrew Croll, and Ron Wright. The group bestows their collective industry wisdom on Brent James and the PENSOLE students to assist in their assigned class projects. We also get some insight into the baby shoe market as told by guest writer Mark San Buenaventura. Continue reading PENSOLE Day 6: Design Explosion (By Brent James & Mark San Buenaventura)…
Today was like design overload, but in a good way. D’Wayne Edwards brought in 10 current/former Nike employees today and the energy in the studio reached another level. Students have begun to jockey for face time, but with the talent recruited to help this afternoon everyone gets a piece of the action. Luckily I get to sit down with a few of them myself.
First up was Cubby Golden, a young Nike footwear designer from Oakland, CA. He is a person I had been in touch with since deciding to move to San Francisco (he is a California College of the Arts graduate). The majority of our conversation revolves around the presentation of the shoe in the store. Is it something you see at the end of your journey? After your 3 mile trek through the store, maybe someone with tired feet is more likely to buy a pair of house shoes. What if you had hints of the shoe throughout the store? You see a pair laid out on a welcome mat and then one at the foot of a bed. Ikea could instruct all the employees to wear them to raise awareness. It could be as easy as the escalators presenting a graphic of the shoe as you ride.
Next to sit down in my studio was Jordan Brand’s Jason Mayden. Famous for designing the Air Jordan 2009 as a young designer from Chicago. We spoke about what IKEA stands for as a brand. Three words he threw out were simple, informal, and honest. Another theme that we talked about was the idea of customization or modularity. This is often the case when shopping at a Swedish store as you choose the pieces that you need for your space. Again, the issue of presentation arose and Jason presented the idea of the customer using the shoe within the store, creating a testing ground. The shoe could then become a take away, kinda of like a present for shopping with IKEA. The system could be more like bowling shoes, where you would trade in your shoe for my house shoe to wear within the store. Then afterwards, the comfort may influence you to buy a pair to bring home.
The last person I spoke with on this day was Andrew Croll, the Nike Product Design Recruiter. If you want a job with Nike designing footwear, this is the man to know. He gives me some insights on what they look for in a designer when applying for an internship or a full time position. He reiterates Nike’s competitive mentality. They not only want to see that you can rock a sneaker rendering, they really want to hear the story behind the product and the choices made while designing. The information I gained today is invaluable for this project and many projects to come.
Today, I have invited another Pensole student: Mark San Buenaventura of Academy of Art University. He explains the task he has been given and shares his experience visiting a baby boutique. Enjoy…
“My name is Mark San Buenaventura, and I’m living my dream (…well, getting there). First and foremost, I’d like to thank D’Wayne, Matt, and the rest of the Nike cohorts who have come through so far to help all of us here in this Pensole footwear design class.
So, my project brief is to design a baby shoe that expands to cover a range of at least 3 sizes. Upon receiving this assignment I knew I was going to be doing research more than just getting face-time with the computer. Primarily what I needed to find out was what would be the best size parameters on which to focus my size range and get first hand insight on baby-specific footwear attributes. And what better way than to visit a nearby baby specialty shop. Plus, it was a gorgeous day in Portland nonetheless to just get outside and have a “Look Up Day” for inspiration (thanks K.C.).
I walk about a mile into the gentrified Pearl District to a shop called Posh Boutique. After explaining my project to a couple of sales people, I received some valuable information from a sales lady named Christine such as the type of materials and features best for a baby/toddler shoe and that the most popular sizes sold are size 6 and 7. I also had Christine bring out the four sizes from size 5 to 8 in one SKU so I could note the measurements in length and width between each size grading up.
Once I left the shop, the inspiration didn’t stop there–I was lucky enough to run into the adjacent park where my target market (early-walkers and their parents) were frolicking around enjoying the weather. In summation, this brief research trip proved to be valuable as a foundation prior to actually hitting the sketch book; there is nothing like in-person research… and sunny skies for creative problem solving.”
The night ended on a great evening out on one of the material vendors we will get to know better on Monday. The Thai fried ice cream was da bomb (shout out to 1997)!
I would like to thank Mark for sharing his story and I will see ya’ll on the flip side.
-Written by Brent James
READ PENSOLE DAY 7/8: THE WEEKEND
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.