A three-man design collaboration between Nike's visionaries aims to save the brand from itself
What do you when your brand has achieved permanent ubiquity? People used to cite some survey that located the Nike swoosh in the hyper-elite category of recognizable symbols; I don’t remember the order, but the crucifix, Mickey D’s, and Coca Cola were all in the conversation. For those of who grew up with J’s and all-white Forces as absolute wardrobe staples, it can be easy to forget that Nike was once just another sneaker company, trying desperately to separate themselves from the pack. Luckily for them, Michael did. And then they did themselves, through the efforts of visionary designers like Tinker Hatfield, partnerships with top athletes, and some extremely effective three-word sloganeering. Adidas is probably still salty.
A few hundred billion in revenue later, and Nike is still the most powerful sports brand in the world, but along with that massive structure come some pitfalls. Generally speaking, brands on that type of scale can get stale and boring real fast, and innovation can sometimes take a backseat to comfortable economics.
Nike’s leaders though, are making a concerted effort to reverse that trend. The folks at Berlin-based design and culture magazine 032c recently spent some time talking with Nike CEO Mark Parker, legendary designer Tinker Hatfield, and musician and artist Hiroshi Fujiwara, who collectively comprise HTM, a three-man design collaboration aimed to inject some risk-taking creativity into Nike’s vast corporate structure.