designboom recently sat down with one of, if not the most important sneaker designer, Tinker Hatfield, the Vice President of Design and Special Projects at Nike. He oversees their famous “Innovation Kitchen,” and he has been responsible for some of Nike’s most popular and iconic sneakers including the Air Max One and the Air Jordan range – now in its 28th edition. The interview explores how Hatfield came to work at Nike, how his education as an architect encourages his work and his most satisfying projects.
DB: How did you come to work for Nike?
TH: My first job with the company was to illustrate a marketing book for Geoff Hollister in the early 1980s. Later, working as an architect I designed retail spaces, which gave me a view into the design culture at the company from the outside. Shortly after I joined the Nike design team.
DB: How many of you worked in the design team back then?
TH: When I came there were nine designers and about the same number of developers for footwear. The aim of this team was simple: to make the best running shoes possible. Back then virtually everyone was a runner – rather than a trained designer, and because of this the approach was somewhat utilitarian. There wasn’t much focus on aesthetics but I was able to bring in some insight having a background in architecture and design.
To read the interview in full, head over to their website.