After getting a special invitation to pack our bags for the Swoosh, you know we were there - no matter how vague the invitation was. When Nike tapped us to visit their World Headquarters in Portland, Oregon (nee, Beaverton) we weren't 100% sure what we were getting into, but if you know anything about Nike, you know it was going to be hella special and awe-inspiring. But, we already touched base on that.
After making the trek through HQ (it was rainy - hello Portland - and we were so grateful for Nike's bright orange umbrellas), we hopped on the bus and jetted through the lush Swoosh landscape. On the edge of the Nike campus, tucked in an inconspecuous space, is a glass and steel building that is a retro homage to the original Nike spirit. Unlike some of Nike's larger campus structures, it isn't named after an athlete. Rather, it is an open loft-style space called Blue Ribben Design Studio and it is the ultimate craft room for Nike employees.
Created almost two years ago, the space is full of fabric, bolts, swatches, sewing machines, silk screen printers and all the creative tools necessary to conjure out of this world designs. Basically, there is a good chance that the idea for something you're wearing today was cultivated in this space. According to Ryan Noon, Design Studio Leader, this space is like "art school but better." Those who work specifically in the space even have their own uniform: graphic light blue and white smocks that are comprible to the smocks word in couture ateliers.
“Blue Ribbon was built," Ryan said, because Nike realized that the designers needed an unstructured space where they could just play around and make things — almost anything they wanted. It is the ultimate creative indulgence.”
As we walked around the space and took in everything from Nike standard dress forms to swatches for footwear and sportswear, we were greeted by a smiling bunch from the Nike Women design team eager to showcase some of the things we could expect in both sportswear and footwear. Everything down to the mood boards, shoe forms, and special detailing on pre-created samples were designed with ladies in mind. Hello, heaven.
Next, it was our turn to get work. Let me just say that never did I ever think designing was easy. After my experience attempting to create my own bag, it was confirmed. DESIGNING IS HARD. I went from covering my bag in fly Nike fabric to adding rivets with metallic swatches woven throughout. After looking at my bag for a solid 15 minutes, I was struck with inspiration and I immediatley understood why this space is so magical - and necessary - for Nike designers. Sometimes, you just need to sit surrounded by stuff in order to really feel something. Ultimtely, I decided to try my hand at heat transfers and, in homage to one of Nike's classic slogans, I created a bag that was all me...and a little bit of Bo. Nike Designer for a day? I'll take it.
Click below and get a look at this design paradise.