PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy // YouTube
PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy // YouTube

Sneaker Design Academy Prepares Students for Careers in Footwear

PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy // YouTube
PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy // YouTube

Aspiring fashion designers have plenty of options to choose from when pursuing higher education—unless they dream of designing sneakers. Basketball shoes have grown into a major sector of the fashion industry; in 2014, Nike’s line of Jordan sneakers alone garnered $2.6 billion in U.S. sales. But for young shoe designers looking to get their foot in the door, it can be hard to know where to start. D’Wayne Edwards set out to change that when he opened the Pensole Footwear Design Academy in 2010.

As Fast Company reports, the school is the first design academy focused around sneakers. Edwards, who’s created shoes for brands like Sketchers and Nike, launched the institution after struggling to find designers to hire straight out of college. He saw a lack of opportunities for young people to make the transition from their formal education to a career in shoe design, so he founded a school that puts footwear front-and-center.

The Portland, Oregon-based academy aims to fit a full semester’s worth of content into classes that span three to four weeks. Days average 14 straight hours, a choice Edwards consciously made to model the classroom experience after life in the design industry. Skills like prototyping and consumer research are taught by real sneaker professionals who come from companies like Nike and Adidas. Tuition and housing is fully covered by the brands sponsoring the program: All students have to do is be one of the 18 selected out of the 850-odd candidates who apply for each class.

This year, that applicant number reached 1400 for one special program. As part of a project called “Fueling the Future of Footwear,” Edwards led a team of students to create designs for a new Asics sneaker. After drafting up 40 different ideas, a winning design was selected to be made into a real-life product that will appear on the shelves in select Foot Locker stores beginning on September 17.

“The beauty of the process is that it’s never going to be perfect,” Edwards says of the project in a video from Footlocker. “For [students] to understand that becomes the actual design challenge: How can you achieve perfection within an imperfect system?”

[h/t Fast Company]

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Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
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New 'Eye Language' Lets Paralyzed People Communicate More Easily
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0

The invention of sign language proved you don't need to vocalize to use complex language face to face. Now, a group of designers has shown that you don't even need control of your hands: Their new type of language for paralyzed people relies entirely on the eyes.

As AdAge reports, "Blink to Speak" was created by the design agency TBWA/India for the NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute and the Asha Ek Hope Foundation. The language takes advantage of one of the few motor functions many paralyzed people have at their disposal: eye movement. Designers had a limited number of moves to work with—looking up, down, left, or right; closing one or both eyes—but they figured out how to use these building blocks to create a sophisticated way to get information across. The final product consists of eight alphabets and messages like "get doctor" and "entertainment" meant to facilitate communication between patients and caregivers.

Inside of a language book.
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

This isn't the only tool that allows paralyzed people to "speak" through facial movements, but unlike most other options currently available, Blink to Speak doesn't require any expensive technology. The project's potential impact on the lives of people with paralysis earned it the Health Grand Prix for Good at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity earlier in June.

The groups behind Blink to Speak have produced thousands of print copies of the language guide and have made it available online as an ebook. To learn the language yourself or share it with someone you know, you can download it for free here.

[h/t AdAge]

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SmithGroupJJR
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Futuristic New Street Toilets Are Coming to San Francisco
SmithGroupJJR
SmithGroupJJR

San Francisco’s streets are getting shiny new additions: futuristic-looking public toilets. Co.Design reports that San Francisco’s Department of Public Works has chosen a new design for self-cleaning street toilets by the architectural firm SmithGroupJJR that will eventually replace the city’s current public toilets.

The design is a stark contrast to the current San Francisco toilet aesthetic, a green knockoff of Paris’s Sanisettes. (They’re made by the same company that pioneered the Parisian version, JCDecaux.) The tall, curvy silver pods, called AmeniTREES, are topped with green roof gardens designed to collect rainwater that can then be used to flush the toilets and clean the kiosks themselves. They come in several different variations, including a single or double bathroom unit, one with benches, a street kiosk that can be used for retail or information services, and a design that can be topped by a tree. The pavilions also have room for exterior advertising.

Renderings of the silver pod bathrooms from the side and the top
SmithGroupJJR

“The design blends sculpture with technology in a way that conceptually, and literally, reflects San Francisco’s unique neighborhoods,” the firm’s design principal, Bill Katz, explained in a press statement. “Together, the varied kiosks and public toilets design will also tell a sustainability story through water re-use and native landscapes.”

San Francisco has a major street-poop problem, in part due to its large homeless population. The city has the second biggest homeless population in the country, behind New York City, and data collected in 2017 shows that the city has around 7500 people living on its streets. Though the city started rolling out sidewalk commodes in 1996, it doesn’t have nearly enough public toilets to match demand. There are only 28 public toilets across the city right now, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

These designs aren’t ready to go straight into construction first—the designers have to work with JCDeaux, which installs the city’s toilets, to adapt them “to the realities of construction and maintenance,” as the Chronicle puts it. Then, those plans will have to be submitted to the city’s arts commission and historic preservation commission before they can be installed.

[h/t Co.Design]

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