Industrial Design Student’s Sneaker Design Puts Him on a Winning Path
Auburn industrial design student Blake Scordino has a passion for sneaker design. Pensole Footwear Design Academy is looking for the next generation of sneaker designers through master class competitions. Scordino’s winning sneaker design, “Mood” won him a highly coveted place in the Pensole x ASICS Tiger Master Class in Portland, Oregon that took place from July 31 through August 18. He was one of 18 chosen from around the world who received a full scholarship for the tuition and housing to join the 2017 Foot Locker “Fueling the Future of Footwear,” sponsored by ASICSTIGER.
“This is the fourth of a highly-successful series of programs in partnership with Foot Locker,“ Pensole founder D’Wayne Edwards said. “It is our joint mission to foster the next generation of emerging footwear design talent. ‘Fueling the Future of Footwear’ has become widely known for finding the best young designers around the globe.” Since the Academy began in 2010, more than 180 graduates have been placed professionally—either full-time or as interns—with footwear companies worldwide. Pensole students have come from more than 35 different countries and represent the global nature of the footwear industry that is estimated to have $84 billion in sales in 2018.
Scordino has always been interested in sneakers, and he has been practicing sneaker design ever since he has been in the industrial design program. “Auburn offers a unique experience unlike any other colleges in the region,” says Scordino. “When I first saw Auburn industrial design, Clark Lundell (Head of the School of Industrial + Graphic Design) showed me all the workshops, the studios, and the interaction with the professors and students. It made it easy to choose this path. When I saw all the sketching, I was hooked. I’ve always wanted to draw my entire life. Then Prof. Chris Arnold really opened my eyes to design when I first started in the Summer Design Studio (aka Summer Op). He sees full circle, and his focus on the human needs in design has stuck with me. I can’t thank him enough.”
Since his sophomore year, Scordino had been following the Pensole classes on social media sites. He saw his opportunity in a Pensole class competition that was a collaboration with ASICS and Foot Locker: “Learn to Design a Pair of Kicks That Could Be Sold at Foot Locker.” Scordino applied for it, got the brief, and worked on his submission for four weeks (watch Scordino’s winning submission video for the Pensole x ASICS Tiger Master Class competition here).
Simple construction of a shoe with low cost components that can be mass produced set Scordino’s design apart from others in the Pensole x ASICS Tiger Master Class competition. His shoe can be worn easily in the streets or off the path. As Scordino explains, it also offers interaction with the user, “It lights up and translates your mood. Taking this step towards the collection of data from the foot while the shoe is on could also potentially change the course of how the next shoe is designed to better meet the needs of the user.”
A fourth-year student from Birmingham, AL, Scordino returned from the three-week Master Class in Portland just before fall semester classes started. The Master Class is a “learn by doing” footwear design program. The curriculum covered the product creation process across footwear design, materials and marketing. The class was divided into six teams of three, and each team was then challenged to create a product based on a specific brief.
Scordino wrote the story behind his team’s shoes that will guide the marketing and distribution of the shoe. “We were able to connect with all three judges on what they were wanting, and they were captured deeply by the story we told for the shoe,” says Scordino. So much so that his team received a $12,000 award, and their sneaker design will go global at Foot Locker stores in 2018 or 2019.
“I was able to come full circle with sneaker design, branding, and materials thanks to this class,” says Scordino. “I also made connections for a potential career within the footwear industry, and I got to work with people from around the world who share my passion for sneaker design.”
Scordino goes on to say, “What made the Pensole opportunity so unique for me is that I’ve been practicing sneaker design just as long as I have been in industrial design, and now I have had a chance to have a sneaker idea, create the branding around that sneaker, and have it sold in select Foot Locker stores. This path with Auburn industrial design presented me with opportunities that I could have never imagined three years ago. Not only did this class allow me to explore sneaker design, but it also helped me get better in fashion and branding. Factors like these create culture, and that’s what I hope to be a part of one day.”