Work in Progress Check back in a day or 2.
In June we ran the first MESH01 Talent Show so that designers could show off some of their skills through new or existing work. We where especially interested to see some of the design work outside of footwear. The timeline was short, but you came through, the work is fantastic. We wanted to take the chance to show off some of our favorite designs, but you can see all of the designs HERE.
Sports Graphics by AK31
AK31 started off doing wallpapers but now he creates sports related promotional advertisements, mockups and physical package design. His designs have been seen everywhere from celebrity athlete’s social media pages to DMX’s tour bus. You can check out more of his work on: www.backstagegfx.com/usc
Stearman by Bewler
Bewler’s Stearman design is a modern watch that takes its styling cues from the vintage Boeing Stearman Biplane. You can find more of Bewlers work, including other incredible watches and vehicle renderings, on: http://bdlworks.com/
Femme by Skittles
Skittles designed and entire women’s fashion line including footwear and accessories. The line was designed using colors and materials to affect a woman’s emotions and empower her. See the entire line.
“Rapido” Tri-Shorts Tag by JWaskowiak
JWaskowiak’s “Rapido” hangtag utilizes fantastic graphic design to display the products features. A clever use of airplanes feature the “aerodynamic” rating of the fabric quality, and “peppers” symbolize the ventilation quality of the fabric. See more of JWaskowiak’s work in his MESH01 portfolio
Silent Warrior by Shashi
Shashi’s Silent Warrior aims to depict the power of the modern woman, her supremacy and compassionate nature. Just as intriguing as the design is Shashi’s choice of eco-friendly materials, using scraps and waste along with organic and sustainable fabrics. See more images of Shashi’s design
Football Uniform by CharlesSollars
You may remember CharlesSollars’ football helmet designs from the blog post a few months ago. Well he is still at it, creating killer uniforms; even customizing them to specific players while the NFL draft was taking place. See his designs for nearly every college and pro football team here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fourteen85/sets/
June’s Talent show was such a success so we are doing it again. So if you have a project that you want to show off to the community be sure to register. You only have a week and a half so dust off the portfolio and show us the design, new or old, that best demonstrates your talents.
Wow, I do not know of any better experiences I have had in my life than the one I had in Portland at PENSOLE.
Arriving in Portland I was very excited, and Portland was everything I expected it to be… besides the rain. I arrived in Portland about midnight and I could already tell that I was going to like it there. I immediately fell in love with the town the scenery was beautiful. The people dress dope and have some amazing sneakers on their feet. I couldn’t wait to get off the plane to take the train since I had never ridden one before, but that would have to wait for the next day since I had missed it.
The first day I arrived late to class, since I have no sense of direction, and was greeted by Dwayne. I became excited when I found out that the man shaking my hand created, my favorite sneaker competition of all time, Future Sole. Dwayne teased me about being late but let it slide the first day. Then he made an announcement that for every min we are late a push up would have to be done. I was never late again. Later he told us the reason he does this is to teach us time management. If you are 15 min early you are on time, If you are on time your late.
I was expecting a class full of men, but was surprised when there was another girl. The footwear industry is mostly male dominated, so going in I knew that I would have to be focused and dedicated. What I liked about our class was that I never felt out of place. Everyone treated each other like we had been friends for years. We were in class a lot together but when we weren’t in class everyone would still meet up to go around Portland and do various activities together, like going out to eat, the Nike art show, or meeting up to go over our sketches for feedback.
The thing that I enjoyed about Dwayne the most was, he was down to earth and honest with us. He was always there willing to help, no matter the time. I appreciate and respect the feedback he gave and the lessons he taught. He put us in front of other well-respected people, in the industry, that normally we might never have met. He is serious about us succeeding and wants us to be even more serious about it. Dwayne was hands down a great teacher and mentor.
While at PENSOLE I learned so much. From my classmates I learned, when you’re working on a project by yourself it’s only your thoughts and ideas going into it, but when you have other designers with different thoughts and creativeness helping you out it is great. They help your mind reach a whole new side to your project. So many ideas are floating around, some good, some you appreciate but may not use, and some ideas make you say “Why didn’t I think of that”. It also teaches you to take criticism.
Dwayne also taught me a lot. One of the first lessons that he taught was how each shoe has a story. There is a reason for the colors, the sole, the design; everything has a purpose. I had NEVER thought about that before. Before coming to PENSOLE, when I wanted to draw a sneaker I didn’t think about a story and what it’s purpose would be, I would just draw. So seeing it from his side taught me to be more serious about my designs and just “think”. Another thing Dwayne taught us, was that a lot of times people don’t think about and understand what they are about to draw on paper. The first week before we began drawing Dwayne just had us think about our designs. Think about what type of products are needed. What purpose is our design going to be used for? We spent a lot of time thinking about it so when it was finally time to draw, we already knew what we wanted to do, and half of the process was done.
I had a great time in Portland, great time w/ Dwayne at PENSOLE and my PEN TEN classmates!!
If interested in attending PENSOLE be sure to check out the latest class PENSOLEOGRAPHY. adidas will provide scholarships for up to 12 hand-selected aspiring footwear designers to experience PENSOLE’s rigorous “learn by doing” curriculum, where students are assigned projects to develop from idea to final concept while working in a team environment.
Submission Deadline: May 13, 2012 11:55 PM GMT
visit http://www.mesh01.com/forms/competitions.aspx to learn more
When you graduate college and receive your degree magically you know everything needed to know to be a designer. Right? …No? The world of design is constantly changing and evolving with technologies and things like social media. Even for experienced designers, you either keep learning or get left behind. But, where does one go to continue learning and developing their skills? I mean it is not like we are all looking to get another degree, we just want to keep expanding our skill set.
The best way to continue learning is via a mentor. It is always a good idea to surround yourself with people that have more experience or are more knowledgeable. Nothing beats hands on learning especially from a friend or colleague. If you are with out a mentor in a particular area, perhaps you do what I do, turn to books or the internet. There is another way.
When I was in Portland last I met with Janene Larson the founder of Ramp, a Learning Resource Center for brands where curriculum can advance professionals working in the Product Creation Process. Ramp addresses the educational needs of professionals in the Product Creation Process through offering Professional Development Training specific to the sportswear industry. Ramp classes provide students a holistic perspective of the product process from product brief to consumer. The “Ramp Way” is anchored by the need for DESIGN, MATERIALS AND MARKETING to work together in the creation of successful product lines.
“I founded ramp in 2011 as a learning resource for my peers and those entering the complex active brand industry to master the BUSINESS SIDE OF DESIGN. I have worked globally with multiple categories in footwear, apparel and accessories at both Nike and Adidas. Whether working in Adidas Basketball, managing key accounts for Nike and adidas or as a Global Merchandiser for Nike, I was always looking for the “Playbook” onhow to do my job.
How do you write a line plan? Where did that trend come from? What does our consumer think? What am I supposed to do with that information? Forecast? Based on what? Why do people get so amped up about sneakers anyway? Why are Design and Marketing always fighting?
Well there really is a method to the madness. I founded ramp as an avenue to share what I have learned over the last 19 years of launching products into the marketplace with a few mistakes and a lot of successes. The key is to keep learning ALWAYS and as soon as you think you got it, it is time to dig deeper and share what you know with others.” - Janene Larson/Ramp Founder
Ramp has partnered with the most experienced and respected industry experts in the Sportswear Brand Field (from Nike, Adidas, Jordan, Auto Brands to name a few) to teach the line planning process, color and trend theory, consumer culture, material process and more. Classes are taught at the epicenter of Active Brands in Portland, Oregon at the PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy.
What You Learn
Upon completing a Ramp training course, a student will understand the needs and objectives of DESIGN, MATERIALS AND MARKETING in the product process and each department’s role in creating a deep connection with their consumer.
- Align your goals with the rest of your organization
- Understand the process and your consumer’s expectations
- Master the role of Color & Trend in the success of products
- Anticipate the needs of Design for inspiration and accurate problem solving
- Appreciate the role of Product Briefs as the agreement between Design, Development and Marketing
DʼWayne Edwards – Pensole Design Director
Suzette Henri – Material Technology Goddess
E. Scott Morris – Designer/Inspiration Cultivator
John Knight – Consumer Research Guru
Michelle Battista – Trend & Merchandising Expert
Dee Wells – Sneaker Culture Historian
More to Come…
“This is what I promise you. You will learn from the best in the industry skills you need to be better at your job, gain an understanding of the perspectives of your Design, Development and Marketing teams and learn how to use information to influence your product success in the marketplace.” – Janene Larson
Check out some of Ramp’s upcoming classes
- COLOR APPLICATION & MERCHANDISING – Michelle Battista – 4/19
- CONSUMER RESEARCH THAT MATTERS – John Knight – 4/20
- PRESENTING AND DEFENDING YOUR PRODUCT LINES & DESIGNS – E. Scott Morris – 4/30
- REALITY VS. MYTH – THE STORIES PRODUCTS TELL – DʼWayne Edwards/Dee Wells – 5/3
- MATERIAL EDUCATION – Suzette Henri – 5/4
Register @: www.ramppdx.com/classes
Visit http://ramppdx.com/ to learn more.
I recently had the chance to catch up with D’Wayne Edwards, the Founder of PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy, and former Design Director at Brand Jordan. We talked about about his design background, PENSOLE, and the new Prep School class.
DE: It started back in 1981 when I was 11. That is when I drew my first shoe. It was a football cleat. I was a big Pittsburgh Steelers/Franco Harris fan, so I would draw him in action poses. From that moment on, I was drawing sneakers throughout high school.
What really made me fall in love was one day I was looking in the LA Times for a job,(No internet back then), and I saw an ad for a Reebok design competition. I entered it and won. I guess they were not expecting a 17-year old kid to come in and collect the prize, which was a job at Reebok. I was too young to work for them so they gave me a couple hundred bucks and told me to come back to see them after I finished college. I was upset that I didn’t get the job, but I did buy a pair of new Air Jordan 2’s with my Reebok prize money.
Towards the end of my high school year, I was doing my usual, sitting in my drafting class, designing my own version of Air Jordan’s. Little did I know, I would actually get the opportunity to design them and get paid for it one day… What’s even crazier is the last shoe in class was the Air Jordan 2(courtesy of Reebok) and 12 years later one of my first assignments in JORDAN was to “redesign” the Air Jordan 2(Nu’ Retro 2). To this day, I still can’t believe it.
You have a pretty interesting tale of determination; tell us about how you broke into the footwear industry.
DE: After winning the Reebok competition, that gave me the confidence to believe that I could do this for a living. I then started looking for colleges to study footwear design, but none existed. So, I went to my high school counselor for help and she told me “give up on that dream of being a footwear designer because no black kid from Inglewood would ever do something like. Your best bet is to continue working at McDonald’s or join the military.” As a teenager, that devastated me. She was my “Guidance” counselor, however, she became one of my biggest sources of motivation. I had several things working against me. One, I am the youngest of 6 and there was no money to send me to college, let alone design school. Two, I started my college search late so I couldn’t get into any schools and I didn’t even know what a portfolio was.
I soon gave up on my dream of being a footwear designer and decided to go to community college at night studying Business while working at McDonald’s in the day. One day, a friend convinced me to quit Mickey D’s and work at his aunts Temp agency as a file clerk. Two weeks into the agency, I was assigned a file clerk position at one of the hottest footwear companies at that time, LA Gear. I know everyone reading this probably never heard of LA Gear, but trust me they were BIG in the 90’s.
Here I am, a few months out of high school and I am working at a footwear company. Yes, I am filing papers, but I am at a FOOTWEAR company and this close to my dream. One day the company announced that they wanted ideas from employees on ways to make the company better. They put wooden suggestion boxes in every department. This was 1988 and still no internet. For the next 6 months, my suggestions came everyday in the form of a new LA Gear shoe design, that I put in the box until the owner of the company Robert Greenberg (Chairman of Skechers, today) took notice. Then one day over the intercom I heard D’Wayne Edwards come to Robert’s office. Nervous and trying to figure out what I did wrong, I went to his office. Sitting on his desk was all 180 of my designs. We talked for a few minutes and then he offered me an entry-level footwear design position. One month after my 19th birthday I was a professional footwear designer, making me the youngest and one of the first African American professional footwear designers in the industry.
Once in the industry you have had the opportunity to work at some great places with some incredible designers. Tell us a little bit about your climb to the top as Design Director at Brand Jordan?
DE: From day one, I made 3 promises to myself:
#1: Make my family proud by having the career my two of my older brothers(Michael and Ronnie, who were better artists than I would ever be and who taught me how to draw) did not get a chance to have because their lives were cut short at an early age. Update: I am still working on this.
#2: Prove to Robert he did not make a mistake by taking a chance on a young black kid from Inglewood. Update: And, after all these years I still feel the same way and we still keep in contact with each other.
#3: Provide opportunities to other aspiring designers like Robert did for me. Start a school that teaches footwear design because there are more kids out there like me. Update: I dedicated many years of my career helping others and it took me 21 years but the school is open now.
My journey started with LA Gear in 1989. In addition to the three points I listed above, the other thing I did from day one was be a sponge. My Mother once told me “a closed mouth does not get fed” and I live by those same words to this day. Back then, it was the key to my success. I was only 19 years old working with designers that had knowledge that I needed. I did more “listening than talking”. All that listening allowed me to work my way up to Sr. Designer within four years.
I left LA Gear and moved to Detroit to work for a small footwear company called MVP Footwear. They offered me more money. That was the ONE and only time I made a move for money and it was a mistake. Professionally it was a mistake because you should never let money guide you but at the same time it was a valuable lesson for me. For all of you aspiring and established Designers out there, don’t make a move for money. Make moves that will make you a better Designer, which will increase your value.
The next stop on my journey was back to LA to work with Robert Greenberg again, but this time at his new company called Skechers, which just signed a licensing deal to produce footwear for Street fashion pioneers Cross Colours and Karl Kani. Most of you reading this are too young to know those brands, but before Sean John, Rockawear and LRG these guys started what you know today as streetwear. I was Head Designer responsible for creating what you know today as urban or street footwear. One of the highlights for me while working on these brands was being the first designer to design Designer footwear (Kani) ever to be worn in the NBA when Skechers signed Derek Fisher to his first NBA endorsement contract in 1993. The Cross Colours and Kani licensing agreement ended and in 1998 Robert gave me my own brand called SITY. I replaced the “C” with an “S” for style because during my travels around the world I discovered that footwear had different styles in every city I visited. SITY’s retail debut was a success but it was short lived and was dissolved within 2 years. I received an amazing honor by SBG (Sporting Goods Business) when they ranked SITY, the second freshest (yes, they used the word fresh back in the day) brand to look out for behind JORDAN Brand.
In April of 2000 I accepted a position at Nike. I began working for the company whose shoes I designed while sitting in drafting class in high school. I spent the first year in ACG and the next ten years in JORDAN.
Over the course of my 22-year career, I have worked with so many great Designers. I don’t want to single out 1 or 2 because I have learned different things from all of them. To this day, I try to be better than I was yesterday and I do this by being open to learn from everyone and everything around me.
Here is one of my favorite quotes: “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” -Bruce Lee
DE: Two things. One, I had a great career and I achieved more than I dreamed of as a Designer. As the years went by, I was more excited to see an aspiring designer that I mentored, shoes running up and down NBA floors or winning awards than my own. Second, I also always had a goal to leave this industry better than when I entered it. I figured I could do that by becoming a full-time Farmer….
Yes, a Farmer. Let me explain. One of the Farmers duties is to plants Seeds and I was planted back in 1989. Just like the Seeds you plant in the ground, I grew up to be blessed with a successful career, not for the riches or the fame but to plant more Seeds.
I am not sure how many Seeds I have planted during my career but I know they are out there and I know they have also planted their own Seeds combined with my goals for PENSOLE will make this industry better. Be a Farmer, my friend…
DE: PENSOLE is the third promise I made to myself on the first day of my professional career 23 years ago this month.
Instead of graduating from college after 4 years, I learned on the job and became a Senior Designer after 4 years. I “learned by doing”. Now, I say that not to say don’t go to college because if I could have afforded to go I would have gone. I say that because I learned the value of the teaching philosophy “learn by doing” which is why I designed PENSOLE to educate our students this way.
At PENSOLE we teach the fundamentals of working with your hands because during my time as a Footwear Design Director at JORDAN, I would see over 200 portfolio’s a year, full of pretty renderings, and adequate designs. I feel computers are making today’s students lazy and reducing the opportunity for them to actually think about what they are designing. Our goal is to teach you to think by designing in black and white using a N0.2 pencil until your design looks good enough to “deserve” color and a computer rendering. We just want you to think first.
I have assembled the most sought after faculty in footwear. Comprised of both young professional designers and established footwear design leaders from the Industry with over 100 years combined experience. I am proud to say that in less than two years we have over 20 former PENSOLE students that have started their professional careers at some of the industries top footwear brands; Nike, adidas, Under Armor, North Face, Wolverine, New Balance and JORDAN to name a few.
We have an exciting year planned beginning with moving into our new 4700 square foot building at the end of the month, that will eventually have everything you need to create a shoe from a pencil drawing to a handmade sample. We will have a wide range of programs from Saturday school for local Oregon students, night school for professional development, graduate programs and a full summer schedule. We are in the process of designing the new web-site which will feature a newsletter called SOLE FOOD that will feed you throughout the year on what’s going on at PENSOLE.
Email FeedMe@pensole.com to sign-up for the SOLE FOOD newsletter if you are interested in learning more about PENSOLE.
In March you will be launching a new class at PENSOLE called “Prep School”. What is this class going to be about?
DE: PENSOLE Preparation School is a hands on 3-week program designed for graduate students to prepare for a professional career in the footwear industry.
Prep School classes will range from Personal Branding, Preparing for Interviews, Business of Design, Patternmaking, How to Create Collections, Bio-mechanics; and much more.
At PENSOLE Prep School, you will experience our rigorous “learn by doing” curriculum that will be customized to focus on specific areas of development. During each of these 3-week classes, you will be challenged to define who you are and who you want to be.
The first Prep School class is called: “Next Steps”. This class will feature several special guests from the Footwear Industry ranging from Design Directors, Design Managers, Recruiters, Hiring Managers and Staffing Agencies. These individuals are from top footwear brands and companies in the industry and they will share their knowledge in preparation for the “Next Step.”
After these 3 weeks you will have a different outlook on design, how you present yourself, your work and how to work in a team environment. PENSOLE Prep School will also be the first graduating class taught at the new PENSOLE building in Portland, OR.
We are giving away a MESH01 scholarship for this class and other special prizes for students that register.
Registration ends on February 22 and class begins on March 12-31st.
How can interested designers find more information and register for this class?
DE: You don’t have to go far. Click on the banner on the home page and you can register today. We have some exclusive Mesh01|PENSOLE opportunities for everyone who registers for the class. (or click here)
Before we head out, any words of wisdom for aspiring designers?
DE: Stay hungry and treat your first design and all those that follow, like it is your last. Don’t take short cuts. As a Designer, you have a gift and that gift will always give back to you, what you give to it.
Thanks, D’Wayne, for taking the time to talk with us.
June 16, 2011 by – materials lecture — There is no shame in losing.- It is not a shame to be knocked down by other people. The important thing is to ask when you’re being knocked down, “Why am I being knocked down?” If a person can reflect in this way, then there is hope for this person. – Bruce Lee
Today Suzette Henri came in to explain the materials side of the shoe market. I was quite inspired by what she had to say and her story of her first encounter with Michael Jordan. It was a slippery situation. The introduction included the different techniques and approaches, in material concept, to achieve the full look, as well as functionality of the final product. Two processes that intrigued me were the release paper method and the roller range method. It kind of opened my eyes to the fact that, something as simple as the texture of an elephants’ skin, can be reproduced to become a cult classic in the athletic footwear world.
Another interesting point was the fact that in order for a concept of a shoe to be produced, the performance level and the material need, have to meet equally. Any compromise between either sides may and can jeopardize the functionality of the final product. The success of the the flywire technology is an example of this marriage; the need of reinforcement in support—without sacrificing performance.
A friend of mine had mentioned that when wearing his Kobe 6’s, the polymer applied as the reptilian detail makes him feel more secure and agile in his movements. That may be one single personal user experience, but it does tell us that functional design can be worked into aesthetical appeal.
To expand on aesthetical appeal, Suzette also dropped some knowledge on the ” trend forecasting” world; how there are people who collect information in order to predict the next buzz. In that same respect, I feel that these same “trend forecasters” can be used as a tool for what NOT to do. In the end of the day, you’re role of a designer is to break the mold, and make better—what is the usual.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Packing was the day’s task. All built and some struggled to paint the models who were crack overnight. Only a few days for the presentation and everyone is working hard until the end. The atmosphere is good and you would not believe the class was only 3.5 weeks old. Projects are starting to take shape and the last weeks drawings become reality. It is exciting to see how each shoe comes alive. Creativity has reached new heights and materials are found all over the place. The same can we say about the work we have almost consumed the entire sixth floor.
Before the day’s work really started the whole class got a lecture in what is important in relation to entrepreneurship. D’Wayne had been a judge at a arrangment for Contractor the evening before, and it was a good opportunity to affirm that it is a good idea to have a company name people remember and only one name.
A good common start to the day when we forgot the day quote – but everyone has enough to do and everything is going up soon in a higher unity. Good to have school open until 12 am and the mood is high. It’s about enjoying every minute of the last week!
At midday, we were visited by Saleh Bembury who just got a permanent job as a designer for men’s footwear at Cole Haan, Congratulations! He went around to all and heard about people’s projects and looked at the models that almost everyone is finished now.
Thanks once again for a fantastic day. We look forward to learn about materials tomorrow where we again have a visitor
- Iben Thode Johanse
June 13, 2011 by Austin Vander Woude
Today was the beginning of our last week here at Pensole, and after D’Wayne gave us the weekend off to enjoy the city everybody came in refreshed and ready to finish strong. We started the day with D’Wayne walking us through what we would be doing for the rest of the week. He also detailed what would be expected of us for our final presentation. By Friday we need to complete a full-size lateral rendering of our shoe, a clay model, and a prototype of our packaging among other things. D’Wayne said it would test our time management skills, so after that everybody got straight to work.
Because we had a little setback last week, with many of our clay model shoes cracking, we basically had a repeat day. This time we got some primer to apply to our STANCE shoes then we went to work recreating our clay models. Even though we were all given the same task it was interesting to see all the unique and creative ways that my classmates were going about making their models. I think it is definitely a testament to the diverse skill sets and backgrounds that D’Wayne has compiled in this classroom. We were basically free to work on anything so some people worked on their packaging and final renderings as well.
Later in the day we were visited by Ward Robinson, the creator of the Bloodlinefresh clothing line. He stopped by because he is in the process of creating a documentary on sneaker culture, and wanted to get the word out about what our class is doing and how it is impacting the culture and shoe industry. Like many of our other guests Ward also walked around the class to check out all the projects and provide his input. Getting feedback has been a huge part of this class, and it always helps to hear other people’s opinions in order to push your design as far as you can take it.
As this is my second time going through Pensole I know this last week is going to be a grind, but I am going to enjoy every minute of it because when it is all over I know that this is an amazing and truly rare experience that my classmates and I will have shared.
-Austin Vander Woude
June 8, 2011 by Marc Illan
Some of us thought we were going to class with our final design. We were wrong. D´Wayne told us, “Don’t think you are going to have the final design today.” We need to be critical of our own designs and not be content with them. We might be making changes later in the week when we see the design in 3D.
The day consisted of individual meetings with D’Wayne for the last touches on our designs. The rest of the group enlarged their designs to be consistent with the actual size of men´s, women´s and kids footwear. For the next day we will need to present our design in a light sketch. We were supposed to keep the sketches light, so it will be easier to make changes later on.
We had two guests visiting us during the day as well as Shawn. Matt Halfhill, founder of NiceKicks, came to see the different projects. He specifically came to give feedback for Marcellus, whose project consists of a golfshoe for NiceKicks. After the critique with him, he sat with some of us to learn more about each of our projects and to provide inspiration and new ideas, even for boxing or graphics.
Premium Pete from SneakerTube.tv, the other guest, also came with fresh ideas for our projects. He has been in the industry for many years, and his experience provides us with insight on the sneaker culture. He showed us some resources from his website, that would be able to help us for our projects. He also took some pictures of our projects, so that he could post them on his website and let his readers know what we are doing at PENSOLE.
Can’t wait for tomorrow to keep working on the project… Fins demà!