The Hue Interview -
WHAT WAS THE ROAD LIKE GOING FROM GETTING YOUR DEGREE IN PRODUCT DESIGN TO WORKING UP TO BECOMING A SR. FOOTWEAR DESIGNER AT NIKE, NSW?
After graduating from Philadelphia University in Product Design, I was an Art and Design Teacher for a year. I later freelanced as a furniture designer in Los Angeles, which evolved to designing wetsuits and design direction with a surf company for five years. I enjoyed surfing and the culture while traveling in California and Australia. It was a great experience designing performance products that were very utilitarian and adhered to the adaptability of the environment. We became very driven towards researching less environmentally impactful materials, manufacturing and processes.
While living in LA I started creating street installations and artwork for gallery shows in the US and Europe. I was interested in pursuing it full time, and was accepted to Central St. Martins in London to get my Master’s of Fine Art. During the same time I had noticed the great work NSW was doing, and seeked out opportunities with Nike as well. Fortunately a door opened at Nike and I was packing my bags for Portland instead of London.
THE TITLE, SENIOR FOOTWEAR DESIGNER AT NSW, IS A MONIKER REVERED BY BOTH ASPIRING DESIGNERS AND SNEAKERHEADS IN GENERAL. IN A NUTSHELL, WHAT DOES YOUR CURRENT ROLE ACTUALLY ENTAIL?
In my role I work together with a talented team of designers and help shape the products that release each season under NSW. Our goal is to create product that is lightweight, seasonally relevant, and very wearable. We challenge ourselves to create new products that help solve a problem with design by using new materials and techniques. By offering feedback and learning from one another we are able to create something fresh and new.
CAN YOU SPEAK ON THE CULTURE AND TALENT ENVELOPED IN THE NIKE CAMPUS IN BEAVERTON, OREGON?
The Nike Beaverton campus is very diverse with talent traveling from all over the world to work at Nike. It is truly amazing. I am constantly inspired by seeing what others are working on and learning about how they approach certain problems. You constantly grow and evolve as a designer when you are exposed to what others are doing, taking bits and pieces here and there to add to your experience and expertise.
THE NOTION OF “CRAFTED QUALITY GOODS” HAS ALMOST BECOME A TREND IN MANY WAYS. WHAT IS YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INNOVATION AND CLASSIC DESIGN OR FUTURISM VERSUS HERITAGE?
Heritage and Innovation are hand in hand, you can not build something new without knowing the past. When designing I always like to bring some of Nike’s rich DNA into a shoe. You have this great history of products from 1972 to the present that you can sample through like a DJ.
YOU HAVE ADOPTED THE PHRASE “IT’S A PROCESS” AND THE “METHODS OF MAKING” INTO YOUR VERNACULAR AS A DESIGNER, CAN YOU EXPAND ON THOSE TWO NOTIONS?
The process that goes into designing a product is what it is all about. All the mistakes and learnings constantly build upon each other to make each future project better. The process that went into each piece is as interesting as the final product.
I LIKE THAT THERE’S LESS BRANDING WITH MANY OF THE SHOES THAT YOU HAVE DESIGNED.
That’s a design aesthetic used for certain models, I like to play up the design and integrate the branding in a subtle way.
WE UNDERSTAND THAT JAPAN HAS BEEN INFLUENTIAL IN SHAPING YOUR THOUGHT PROCESSES IN DESIGN. WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES FOR YOU IN TRAVELLING TO EXPERIENCE THEIR CULTURE AND INJECTING THAT INTO YOUR OWN WORK?
Japan has had a huge influence in my design process. Just in the way of thinking, the attention in detail, and the level of pride that is taken in every task. It’s engrained in culture. It’s truly fascinating to go to Tokyo, a place with 12 million people and there’s no trash on the sidewalk.
I’M CURIOUS TO KNOW IF THERE ARE ANY OTHER FOOTWEAR BRANDS THAT YOU LIKE AND/OR PAY ATTENTION TO.
As a designer, I’m not interested in other brands because that’s not going to help me create anything new. I’m looking at futuristic architecture, furniture, fine art, and sculpture, and things that are around me everyday. I am really interested in new methods of making. We’re working in the future; this stuff is “delivered from the future in a cardboard box”.
IF THERE WERE ONLY ONE SHOE THAT YOU COULD WEAR FOR THE REST OF YOUR TIME, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
It would be the Nike Woven Footscape Chukka. It’s super breathable and there’s nothing added– just bare bones, while having performance cushioning and flexibility in it’s midsole.
ALTHOUGH THIS MAY NOT BE IN YOUR FORESEEABLE FUTURE, WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE, HOW DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO DESCRIBE YOU AND YOUR CAREER AS A DESIGNER?
If I am remembered for being a good dad and husband that is cool with me. As a designer I want people to look at what I have created and hopefully enjoy some of it; realizing that I took some risks and thoroughly enjoyed what I was doing.
Words & Interview by Justin Lintag
Design & Photographs by Mario Soriano