Jun 20, 2012

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The Nike Internship, week 2

Week 2 started slowly by getting to know everyone on the great team I’ll be working with, my co-workers and managers. Being a Graphic and Industrial Designer, and getting into Brand Design at Nike,, I must say I wasn’t really sure of my duties or what to expect in terms of deliverables, since I’ll be working mainly with the Experience Design team. Experience Design is a fairly new area for me, I honestly had no clue what it involved until I was shown the interesting work that the Experience Design team came up with. Basically, experience design works along with the Store Design team, together they come up with how all the Nike stores look like world wide. the Store Design team mainly takes care of the architecture side of things, while the Experience Design looks at the kind of experience and stories the shoppers find while in the store. A lot of experience design involves telling stories about the products or making bold statements eithers in 2d or 3d form, such as installations, within the store.

What’s great about the Design Internship program here at Nike is that it’s very organized, and it’s like a 3 month learning experience, as well as a great opportunity to prove yourself. My manager who I will be working with over the course of the next 10 weeks has been a great resource to me, walking me through the process of how things work and being a great asset to me when any questions arise. I’ve been assigned 2 main projects which I will be taking on as a personal project throughout the internship, until the last day which all Design Interns need to present their work. I will be looking at experience design moments and new creative ways of telling the stories of Nike Better World and Nike Innovation through their stores. I’ll also be working with the experience design team and supporting them with any work in progress or for production.

On a side note, with the Euro Cup going on, it’s great to see that you can actually watch the match at the office, or the conference room, or if it’s during lunch time everyones watching the game in the cafeteria. You can see posters of different players and colors of different teams all around campus, which definitely brings a great energy and vibe into the workplace.

Entrance to the Jerry Rice Building


Designer’s Orientation

Design Interns were lucky enough to get their second orientation which was specifically just for the designers. It was a great opportunity to formally meet all the other designers and share our experiences and expectations for the summer. We were each asked to introduce ourselves and share a secret, it was a great ice breaker and pretty funny to hear everyones secrets and stories.

Nike Design Orientation

The orientation started off with Howard Lichter, Global Director for Creative Outreach. Howard is a great guy with lots of great stories and advice to share, he’s been at Nike, for 16 years now. Howard was in charge of setting up a Design studio for Nike in Japan for 5 years. Howard’s talk to us was mainly about Nike’s design insights and life cycle, and here’s the points he covered:

Howard Lichter, Global Director, Creative Outreach

1. You say obsessed like it’s a bad thing

  • We should all be obsessed with what we do, whether it be design or anything else. He calls it the 70/20/10 rule, 70% passion, 20% obsession, 10% talent. Make it personal, keep it simple.

2. They know when you’re faking it

  • Go as deep as possible in the lives of who you are designing for. Whether its an athlete, client, or manager, understand them deeply, the more you know them the better you could sell an idea to them based on what they are interested in most.
  • Authenticity counts.
  • Don’t observe, participate.

3. Insights

  • You can’t put a price tag on insights & working with athletes. Nike pays Lebron $120 million, but that money is completely worth it when you can get close with the players and connect with them on a more personal level, it affects your designs and every step of the process. Basically insights are assets to any company. As Phil Knight always said: “Listen to the voice of the athlete”.

4. Innovate or die trying

  • Don’t do “new & different” but “new & better”.
  • Solve a problem, enhance an experience

This is a great example of one of Nike’s most recent innovations!


5. There is no “I” in “Team”

  • Working alone means working through your own process from start to finish. But working as a collaborative team and opening up for sharing ideas means taking the project from start to finish, while having great potential of having new ideas spark up and completely diverging the direction of the project. That’s when innovation shows up!
  • Always leverage the team, be supportive.
  • Network with as many people as you can. Networking = Survival.

6. Sweat the details

  • Always look at your final product through this scope: Attract/Engage/Connect.
  • Attract grabs people’s attention from a distance. Engage tell’s a story and what your products all about. Connect are the true fine details that bring out the beauty in your work.
  • Own the process.
  • Finish strong.

This is a great example of how much detail was put into this destroyer jackets for Zlatan Ibrahimovic:


7. Tell great stories

  • Be a great presenter

8. Designing great journey’s and experiences


Next person who presented to us was Katy Tisch, Global Creative Director at Nike. She shared her great stories and experiences at Nike, and gave us a small talk called “10 thoughts for interns”:

  1. You’ll remember this
  2. Be hungry for work
  3. Be a sponge
  4. Be a snoop, talk to people about their process on things you like.
  5. Use each other
  6. Be brave and curious
  7. Presentation – creation, strategy and inspiration
  8. Look at yourself from the outside, get feedback
  9. Be nice! Be a “can do” person. Be energetic. Be positive.
  10. Be young and have fun … but … it’s a business at the end of the day.


The third speaker was a Design Recruiter at Nike, and was great listening to her speak about the different things they look for in designers and design in general at Nike. She said that there are about 350 designers at Nike, and how Nike strives to make this place a world class experience for every designer. Nike has become more of a Design and Innovation company focusing on sports and athletes. Finally, this 12 week internship is more like a 12 week interview, where we have to present our final works and projects on the very last day to other Designers at Nike. If your wondering what Nike is looking for when you apply, she spoke of 4 main things:

  1. Passion for Design
  2. Consumer insights
  3. Innovation
  4. Trend and aesthetics


Finally, we were given a nice talk by one of the full time Graphic Designers at Nike, James Dunphy, who also started as an intern just few years ago. I guess the main advice which you hear over and over from people in different fields and categories is just to be as passionate as possible and not being afraid to reach out and connect with others wile being on campus.


Lunch and learn with Hannah Jones

Hannah Jones is part of Nike’s SB&I Team (Sustainable Business & Innovation). She spoke to us for a good 2 hours about Nike’s latest initiatives in becoming a more sustainable company and how that has lead to better innovation in their products. For example, Nike Better World products is a good example of the things they have come up with, where a jersey is made out of 8 recycled plastic bottles, and turfs are made out of recycled shoes. Hannah shared some good advice on the issue of sustainability, innovation, and a business in general.

Lunch and learn with Hannah Jones

  1. Attaching issues to brands is a successful strategy, it serves both the company and cause.
  2. Nike stopped being defensive with the NGO’s when it was approached, and reached out, and that built more success.
  3. “You can trigger distributive innovation to make better products”.
  4. How can we make more stuff with less? It’s a math equation that leads to innovation!
  5. How do we design the future faster than anyone else?
  6. Inventing new and substitute materials by Nike team is an ongoing process.
  7. All sustainability is, a challenge for innovation, and currently proves markets failure to presenting better solutions.
  8. Nike works with all other companies and competitors in the industry to cooperate as a group on influencing their regulations on factories around the world
  9. Have to make sustainability an attribute of innovation, performance, aesthetics, and make it seem delicious.

A great quote on this matter, as William Gibson put it “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”


Nike / Intel Olympics

Nike and Intel are both organizing events for their interns to compete in different activities and sports throughout the internship period. The first event which brought the competition between the 2 teams was laser tagging, and other events would follow in the coming weeks. I feel like it’s great to take a break from work sometimes and do random things as these, I feel like they could in one way or another play a role and perhaps spark some new ideas into whatever project it is your working on.



This weekend was my first time going to downtown Portland to check the city out, it feels kind of small and packed compared to other cities i’ve been to, but overall it’s a pretty nice place with nice architecture. The Nike store in the downtown area was great to look at, and seeing the actual work the Experience design team I work with has done, was very impressive and nice to see first hand. the store is 3 stories and pretty nice just to check out, if your ever in downtown make sure you do!

The second part of my journey was taking part in a 3 hour workshop held at Pensole Footwear Academy run by Dwayne Edwards, past Design Director for Air Jordan. It was a real great workshop which featured Justin Taylor, Senior footwear designer from Air Jordan, where he spoke about his process and experiences. Followed by that was a panel discussion with Q&A from the audience with Justin, Dwayne, and Thomas Harding, footwear designer at adidas Basketball. Having such insights from 3 designers with great talent and experience is definitely very inspiring, looking at how they started, their struggles, and where their at now and the things they do definitely connects with a lot of people.

Workshop at Pensole


That’s it for this week, more pictures from the 2nd week:

  1. Dude! Looks amazing and sound inspiring. Keep the tight posts coming. Someone in Shanghai is reading. :)

  2. Dude.

    This is beyond awesome.
    Looking forward to the next update.


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