words & images // Brian Moughty
Enjoy an inside look at 4Cent Designer Brian's experience attending this summer's Pensole footwear design class and Nike's Future Sole Finals.
Monday: One of the many great things about Pensole is our access to tremendous guest speakers. Peter Danner, from the Oregon Shoe Making Network, is a 4th generation shoe maker in his family’s business, Danner Boots. More recently, he worked at Nike as a Senior Footwear Engineer, and he spoke to us about lasts and their importance in the process.
He showed us several different types of lasts, which can vary depending on the sport the shoe will be used for and have a huge impact on the construction of the shoes. We learned about the different types of terminology and even passed around actual lasts. He then took us a little into the world of pattern making and showed us some CAD drafts of different upper patterns. To the untrained eye, it just seemed like a whole mess of pieces and a ton of random lines, but Peter broke it down so that we could see what lines were where and how they'd all work together once the shoe was constructed. He even admitted he still gets confused at times himself.
After lunch, we met another veteran who had done a lot in the shoe world. I had never actually heard of Mike Friton, but his work was another story. Mike has been there from the start of Nike and worked alongside Bill Bowerman, so he has seen it all. After speaking a little about the anatomy of the foot, he shared more stories about shoes and technologies that he has worked on in the past.
One interesting shoe was the Goatek, which was inspired by mountain goats and the way their hooves work that allow them to climb. Other shoes and technology he mentioned were the Presto, Free series, Jordan Trunner and Tech Flex. He was clearly a mastermind of development, and I can’t imagine what other Nikes have gone through his expertise, and of course, what never made it to production. He even spoke about possible future technologies and materials that could possibly be in footwear someday. We wrapped the day up with presenting our first 10 concepts for our projects, and got enough feedback to move down to 8.
Tuesday: D’Wayne Edwards pulled out a ton of samples he's worked on in the past, including many unseen, monstrous, Karl Kani shoes for players like Derek Fisher. The rest of the day was filled with sketching and then again a project critique from our mentors. My day was capped off when Wilson Smith III came by to discuss my project and what steps to take from here. He seemed very happy and thrilled with the work I had put into it so far.
Wednesday: It was another full day of sketching and critiques. There really isn't much more to add than that! My design started to get narrowed down as we went through my latest six concepts, which needed to then be trimmed to just four. Wilson came in again to look at my progress and which ones to move forward with.
Thursday: Today was yet again spent on moving our sketches forward and narrowing them down. We had to have four completed by the end of the day before getting into our critiques for the afternoon. As you guys can perhaps tell, the past two days were filled with pretty much nothing but sketching, rendering and fine tuning concepts for me.
Friday: For the last day of an eventful week filled with gaining knowledge from guest speakers and working on a ridiculous amount of sketches, we headed to the US headquarters of another giant in the industry, adidas. This was my first time going, so I had no idea what to expect. After a long walk from the train, we were shown around "The Village" by designers Ian Cobb and Thomas Lee. We got to check out where samples are made, the weartesting area, as well as where the apparel, running and basketball categories work out of.
Of course, the most exciting part is getting glimpses of products that won’t be out for another year or two. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the tour to see up close was in the research area, where we got a glimpse of how the company's research & devopment team test products on a full-length basketball court with cameras, sensors and other data capturing devices covering all angles. Lastly, it was cool to check out the humongous "JMJ" Superstar that proudly sits