Ramp “Connect. Elevate”



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


The Ramp Approach

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 departments role in creating a deep connection with their consumer.

  • Align your goals with the rest of your organization
  • Understand the process and your consumers 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

Instructors include some names that I am sure many of you are already familiar with.

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
  • 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.


Wear Testing: Ready for Launch

How do you know something works unless you try it out? You can guess and conjecture all you want. You can do field studies, polls and focus groups, but the reality is that most of the major decisions we make are fraught with risk. For example, the Red Sox thought it would be a great idea last year to bring in John Lackey for some veteran leadership. It turns out that the only leadership Lackey provided was leading his teammates to beer and buckets of fried chicken.

This is a fundamental problem that exists in life. No, I am not talking about drinking beer and eating fried chicken.  I am talking about the challenge of figuring out whether something will succeed or fail BEFORE it actually succeeds or fails. About 6 months ago I decided to get a new job and I had to make a big decision about where I would go and what I would do. I did a lot of research online, but the thing that ultimately helped me make my decision to join MESH01 was talking to other peers and experts who provided insights I would have never picked up on my own. Conceptually speaking, I was able to validate my hypothesis (i.e. I would enjoy working at MESH01) through a form of empirical evidence (i.e. people that were like me who have tried to do the same type of job and indicated they liked it). Of course, I was still taking a risk, but that risk was greatly diminished.

Read More

MESH01 will be at ENKWSA

MESH01 will be in Las Vegas for the ENKWSA conference February 6-8.  It is looking to be a fantastic show.  If you are in the neighborhood be sure to check us out at booth # 10345

I recently had the chance to catch up with David Dea the Director of Global Sourcing for ENKWSA.  We talked about this year’s changes to the ENKWSA show and what you can expect to see including the recently added ENKWSA Seminar Series.

Tell us about your role with the ENKWSA show.
I am the Director of Global Sourcing. I focus on bringing the suppy chain vendors to ENKWSA.
Its exciting to see that we are really looking to expand this area of our show by having additional product offerings to help with our attendees’ supply chain needs.

What is the ENKWSA show for those that are unfamiliar?
ENKWSA has 2 components. The Sourcing Show at ENKWSA is my focus. This is the largest, most comprehensive marketplace for footwear supply chain from concept to consumer. Supply chain is very important in the day to day of a footwear company. There are so many moving components to create a shoe from concept to completion and that is what The Sourcing Show at ENKWSA helps deliver.

ENKWSA also has the Affordable Fashion brands that exhibit at ENKWSA. This is an area where we focus on fashionable footwear that sells at higher volume.

Who is the show being directed at?
ENKWSA benfits retailers, designers, product developers, sourcing executives from all brands.

For those that have attended the show in the past, I understand that there is a new direction.  Can you tell us about the new direction of the WSA show and what kinds of things are being done to spice it up?
The direction of ENKWSA houses Affordable Fashion brands and Supply chain vendors from across the globe. We have included a seminar series to house intellectual topics that are of value to our attendees. There are more things to come for August 2012 some of which include working with Mesh01.

This year you are the running a free seminar series, tell us about what attendees can expect from the series.
ENKWSA’s seminar series is really exciting for your community. They can expect important topics to be addressed that can really help them with their business. These topics include:

Changes in the World Footwear Market from 1993 to 2025 and the Effect on the Volume of Soling Materials Required

Protecting your Footwear Designs– Design Patents

and Trade Dress and Branding in the USA – A Beginners Guide to Effectively Brand Your Products

Thanks for your time David, we will see you in Vegas.

Click Here To read more about the ENKWSA seminar series

If you would like to register for ENKWSA Click Here and be sure to stop by booth # 10345 to say hello.

2012 MESH01 Designer of the Year

In 2012 we want to make Designer of the Year even bigger by awarding cash or product prizes to the top 3 designers in 2012.  We will also be awarding a winner at the end of each quarter.

Some of you may be aware of the current points system where the top 8 designers in a competition receive points.  In 2012 we will be expanding our point system to also include designers who contribute content for our blog or are particularly helpful in the forums.

Point System

-       Top 8 designers in a competition earn points for their submissions

  • 1st        1000 pts
  • 2nd          800 pts
  • 3rd          600 pts
  • 4th          400 pts
  • 5th          300 pts
  • 6th          200 pts
  • 7th          100 pts
  • 8th             50 pts

-       200pts for user provided content that we run (blogs, Education, etc..)

  • If you have content that you think would be of interest to the community, submit it by emailing nickh@mesh01.com

-       20 pts for a forum post that we find particularly helpful (will be rewarded at our discretion)


Designer of the year will be awarded to the designer who accumulates the most points from competitions that end in 2012.   Q1 winner will be the designer who accumulates the most points between January 1st and March 31.  Q1 winner will receive $500.

We are interested in giving a way prizes other than just cash.  If you would like to recommend a prize other than cash that we could consider for either Designer of the year or our quarterly winner, you can suggest it here

MESH01 2011 Designer of the Year: Renderman

We are proud to announce that Mark Kokavec AKA Renderman is the 2011 MESH01 Designer of the Year. I had the chance to talk with Mark to learn a little more about him and his background in design, he even tells us where you can learn his and other leading designer’s techniques.

  How did you learn about MESH01?

I was doing some “design” research online.

Had you participated in a design competition before?

I had never participated in an online competition but I had hosted a couple on my old website a few years back.  They were focused on footwear design and the winner was featured in SLAM magazine.

Can you tell us about your path towards becoming an Industrial designer?

Growing up, I was always an artist and realized I wanted to do something related to design while in High School.  It wasn’t until my best friend introduced me to the College For Creative Studies (CCS), where I decided to make “Design” a career.  I started studying Automotive Design at CCS and later transitioned into Product Design.  I never interned for a large company (but wish I had).  I landed my first job with Reebok 3 months prior to graduating.  Yes, I finished my degree before starting the new job!

After 6 years heading up the Tennis category, I moved to Converse to manage and lead their Basketball division.  Then it was off to Under Armour where I worked on Football, Baseball, Lacrosse, Soccer, Training, Slides, Kids and Basketball footwear.  My main responsibility was as Sr. Design Manager for Running and Trail.

What are some of the highlights of your career to date?

The exciting part of being a footwear designer is the opportunity to work closely with professional athletes.  I’ve have the opportunity to work closely with athletes at the top of their game such as… Venus Williams (Tennis), Chris McCormack (Iron Man) and Dwyane Wade (Basketball).  Seeing my designs on their feet during Grand Slams and Playoffs is a hard feeling to describe.  It’s very special.  Being part of that history, albeit in a small way, is extremely fulfilling.

What do you feel makes your designs and style different/unique from others?

The main difference is the integration of the digital medium into my process.  The way I use multiple software packages in harmony to achieve a final design is my “special recipe”.  I’m always looking for new processes to add into my workflow.  If there is a program that can help improve the final design, I try to figure out which parts to use and add them in.

Who are some of the designers / artists that you pull your inspiration from?

When I feel the need to get inspired, I typically turn to the entertainment industry.  I find the images and concepts to be full of creative energy and always come away with a refreshed and energized mind.  Daniel Simon’s “Cosmic Motors” picture book is always nearby.

In addition to designing you have also founded a company called Render Demo.  Can you tell us a little about what Render Demo does?

Render Demo started out as a hobby in 2008.  I wanted to share the skills and techniques that took me years to develop, with other designers.  I was fortunate to receive an education at CCS and realized that there are so many young artists and designers out there that (for whatever reason) wouldn’t be able to access this type of training.  So that’s when I decided to start Render Demo.

Render Demo consists of industry leading designers sharing their real-world techniques and processes through detailed video tutorials.  We currently focus on digital techniques but will be expanding our library to include traditional techniques like pen and paper, in the near future.

Our mission and goal is to provide artists and designers that are looking to improve on their current technique or interested in exploring new techniques, the means to do so.  From beginner to advanced level training, there is something for everyone.

For design training tutorials: http://www.renderdemo.com

I have personally seen one of Renderman’s live demos and would recommend it to any designer looking to expand on their techniques.

Where can our designers go to see more of your work?

For my portfolio and freelance design services: http://www.renderdemodesignstudio.com

Thank you for the interview, can you offer any words of advice to the other designers out there in the MESH01 community?

Never give up!  Keep pushing for your dream and do whatever it takes to live it.

One other thing… Always keep an open mind.  Taking criticism can be tough at times, but use it as a learning experience to grow and as a “fuel” to better yourself.


A conversation with D’Wayne Edwards Founder of PENSOLE Footwear Design Acadamy

 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.

Hello D’Wayne, where did your love for design, specifically footwear, originate?

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

 What made you decide to transition into education?

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…

 Almost 2 years ago you started PENSOLE; can you tell us about the program?

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. 

Designers can register for PENSOLE’s Prep School class HERE


Designer Limelight Ilya

I recently had the chance to catch up with Ilya the winner of the Fall Winter 2013 Trend Direction competition and second in the 2020 Running competition.

First of all, congratulations on your successes in the recent competitions.  How did you learn about MESH01?

I was invited to compete for the Pensole Footwear Design Program Scholarship by D’wayne Edwards.

 Had you entered a design competition before?

Yes. I was a finalist in the kicksguide.com online footwear design competition, the Cut&Paste live 3D design competition finals in San Francisco, and a portfolio competition at Domus Academy in Milan where I won a scholarship for 70% of the tuition for my Masters Program in Accessories Design.

Can you tell us about your path towards becoming a footwear designer?

I have been drawing since I was little. Everything I drew was design related, but my favorite subject was sneakers. At that time, I didn’t know that there is a profession of Footwear Designer – I just drew out of passion. I grew up in a musical family and my other passion is music. I knew I couldn’t formally study music and design at the same time, so I decided to do it one by one. After completing my musical studies, playing in a band and teaching music in Serbia, I moved to the US – New York with an idea to grow as a musician and designer. This is where my passion for design was reborn and took over the music. I still played in a band, but I drew more and learned Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator on my own in order to create my first serious portfolio. I decided to study Industrial Design with a goal to become a Footwear Designer. I chose the Masters Program in Industrial Design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco because of the relatively low cost for the quality of education. It was the first time I was introduced to formal design training and the traditional design process. I was growing every day as a designer. After less than two years of studying, I was accepted for an internship at Specialized bicycle components in Morgan Hill, CA. This was a great opportunity to get real hands-on experience and utilized some of what I had learned.  That summer (2009) I designed several cycling shoes that went into production, among other components. Even though I was doing what I always dreamed about (designing shoes), I felt that in order to become the best footwear designer, I needed to have knowledge of both – ID and fashion. This is why I submitted my portfolio to Domus Academy in Milan, where I won the scholarship for the Masters Program in Accessories Design, specializing in footwear. Living and studying in Milan, the world’s fashion capital and one of the most inspiring design cities, broaden the way I thought about design. When I look back at myself as a designer 4 years ago, I see enormous improvement.  This inspires me to work harder. Living in different cities and moving across the globe made a huge impact in my growth as a designer. My latest footwear design work was an internship at Manas, a small footwear company on the Italian coast. They’ve been producing shoes for different brands over the last 50 years. It was a unique “Made in Italy” experience as the whole process from design to production was under the same roof. My goal now is to continue growing as a designer and to eventually design the best shoes ever.

Who are some of the designers / artists that you pull your inspiration from?

I love art and my favorite artists are: Kandinsky, Malevich, Picasso, Chagal (to mention some); Architecture: Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid; Interior: Graft; Footwear: Tinker Hatfield; Fashion: Alexander McQueen, Rick Ovens and many others…Coroflot, design websites, the streets, and people are also great sources of inspiration.

MESH01’s community is located all over the world.  You have lived and studied design all over the world.  I’m sure the community would like to know how design scene compares in the various places you have lived.

When moving or traveling, you can compare design in various places by meeting and observing people and their habits. People from different countries and cities have different life experiences. Meeting them, you are adding a layer of culture to yourself. What’s odd in one culture, is normal in the other. Differences can be found everywhere. Italian espresso vs large American coffee is similar to comparison of Fiat 500 vs SUV (which you may not be able to park in Milan). Design is also a lifestyle. I personally enjoyed the design of the two-hours lunch break, which during the hot summer I used for riding my bike to the beach and refreshing in the Mediterranean sea before I go back to work. Understanding one cultures lifestyle helps a designer to be more realistic in understanding global values, but also in realizing the importance of your own culture. I always carry my individual style even when adapting to “New York tough”, “California laid back” or “Milano fashion must”. All these places have strong design scenes, especially Milan, where almost everything is meant to have an aesthetic statement: from a vintage bicycle (that you can buy for 50 euros on the street) to futuristic designs you can see during the design week.

Thank you for the interview, can you offer any words of advice to the other designers out there in the MESH01 community?

My advice to young aspiring designers is to leave their rooms sometimes and walk to different parts of the city, or travel to another city or a country if they can afford it. There will be many surprises that bring boundless inspiration. Than go back to your room and continue drawing. I’d like to end with a quote from Alan Alada as I find it very similar to my path: “You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and not quite knowing what you’re doing, but what you’ll discover will be yourself.”


The Co-Creation Platform For The Sport-Style Industry

By Vivienne Amari, WGSN, 07 October 2011

This month WGSN’s footwear experts speak with Brian Bednarek – founder of MESH01 – on the concept of crowdsourcing and how his co-creation platform is re-shaping the sportswear industry.

Crowdsourcing is a term that has gained a great deal of momentum over the past few years. Originally coined by Jeff Howe in a June 2006 Wired magazine article “The Rise of Crowdsourcing” the concept has evolved into a primarily web-based activity. Given the vast number of freelancers in design, the potential for crowdsourcing among this sector is great, and could potentially reshape the ways that companies regard design and brand strategy. Read More