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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The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

The Force Field Cloak
This Glowing Blanket Is Designed to Ease Kids' Fear of the Dark
The Force Field Cloak
The Force Field Cloak

Many kids have a security blanket they bring to bed with them every night, but sometimes, a regular blankie is no match for the monsters that invade their imaginations once the lights are off. Now there’s a glow-in-the-dark blanket designed to make children feel safer in bed, no night light required.

Dubbed the Force Field Cloak, the fleece blanket comes in several colorful, glowing patterns that remain invisible during the day. At night, you leave the blanket under a bright light for about 10 minutes, then the shining design will reveal itself in the dark. The glow lasts 8 to 10 hours, just long enough to get a child through the night.

Inventor Terry Sachetti was inspired to create the blanket by his own experiences struggling with scary nighttime thoughts as a kid. "I remember when I was young and afraid of the dark. I would lie in my bed at night, and my imagination would start getting the best of me," he writes on the product's Kickstarter page. "I would start thinking that someone or something was going to grab my foot that was hanging over the side of the bed. When that happened, I would put my foot back under my blanket where I knew I was safe. Nothing could get me under my blanket. No boogiemen, no aliens, no monsters under my bed, nothing. Sound familiar?"

The Force Field Cloak, which has already surpassed its funding goals on both Indiegogo and Kickstarter, takes the comfort of a blanket to the next level. The glowing, non-toxic ink decorating the material acts as a gentle night light that kids can wrap around their whole body. The result, the team claims, is a secure feeling that quiets those thoughts about bad guys hiding in the shadows.

To pre-order a Force Field Cloak, you can pledge $36 or more to the product’s Indiegogo campaign. It is expected to start shipping in January 2018.


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