Footwear designer, London Design Nest – Wolverine World Wide
What does your job involve?
At London Design Nest we design for all the brands at [footwear brand house] Wolverine World Wide.
I tend to handle the more technical and sportier design projects from Merrell, Patagonia, Cushe and Caterpillar Footwear. My level of involvement and influence varies with each project and from brand to brand, from providing sketch ideas and a final design drawing for Merrell, to taking ownership of the whole design development process, from brief to final product, with Cushe.
What skills do you need?
Footwear design and development requires a great deal of hand drawing, problem solving, material properties and process knowledge. These are some of the key skills you need as an industrial designer.
We also had engineering drawing hammered into us, which helps when working on complex outsole moulds and constructions. Although I try to work up a few key projects per season with flashy Photoshop presentation drawings, most of the artwork is hand drawn because of the volume of projects and the timescales. Communicative sketching skills are imperative.
What do you like and dislike about your job?
I love the challenge of designing and developing new footwear and the learning that each project brings. I’ve been lucky enough to work on some exciting projects with highly skilled developers, pattern masters and engineers. I get a great deal of satisfaction going from a design on paper, through discussions with colleagues and suppliers, to a manufacturable solution. I’m lucky enough to travel all over the world, whether it’s rummaging in New York vintage stores, seeing the latest innovations and trends at trade shows in Europe or developing products in Asia. However, although I love to take inspiration from these new places and meeting new people, I do miss my friends and girlfriend when I’m away for extended periods.
How did you get to where you are today?
I read Industrial Design at Loughborough University. I gained my footwear knowledge from being thrown in at the deep end as a junior designer for Berghaus at [brand house] Pentland.
What is your proudest career achievement to date?
My proudest moment early on was seeing my product featured in a technology magazine I read. And you definitely get a kick out of seeing your designs in the wild on people’s feet.
What is your ambition?
In terms of career progression, I don’t want to lose contact with design, so some kind of creative leadership or brand design direction position, where I can still learn and share my passion with my team, is key to my long-term ambition.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
I’d say a confidence in your ability to face the challenges put to you and a high level of constructive self-criticism, balanced with a willingness to learn and listen will get you far. Designers are passionate people and immersion in creative environments with your peers and mentors will drive you on. Most importantly, do something that challenges and excites you.
2009 Designer, London Design Nest – Wolverine World Wide
2008 Freelance footwear designer
2005 Graduate trainee designer, Pentland
2005 BSc Industrial Design and Technology, Loughborough University