Class developed and conducted by Tony Yao
In the spring of 2007, my high school class and I embarked on one of our most ambitious projects to date. I decided that is was time to step up our game a notch and design real shoes for the Nike name brand and to build our version of a Niketown.
At first this seemed like a daunting task. Many of the students seemed intimidated and scared stating, “we don’t know how to make shoes.”
I told them not to worry, I do!
We all decided that Nike was to be the brand we chose and we embarked onto our research and design phases. Each student selected a specific sport to tailor a shoe after, so no one had exactly the same category of shoe. The categories ranged from football, to tennis, to cross-training, to scuba.
As usual, the amount of deliverables was high. I needed at least 50 pages in concepts, a giant table-sized 3D canson rendering, a fully interactive class display presentation, and 1 upholstered shoe model; all done on a shoestring budget.
Doing 50 pages of sketches in 5 weeks, and a giant 3D canson rendering was nothing new to my high school class. The new curve ball came in the form of a shoe model and an interactive Niketown display. We had another 5 weeks to pull this off. In building the shoes, we first carved out our forms in yellow foam, from there we had to select fabric and leather materials to upholster them with. Some shoes were so over the top, that they included LED lights and shock absorbers. Everything you see in the pictures were made by the students from scratch! We had no model shop or computer lab to help us. We even designed T-shirts for our final presentation day, with each student’s sport represented in the design.
If you look at the Niketown presentation display, you will see what can be made with everyday items found at Home Depot. We used PVC pipes, painter’s tarps, spray paint, tie wraps, and 15 rolls of contact paper. Yes, contact paper that is how we created the wood floor for Niketown. My boss even commented that our wood floor looked better than the floor of the school. It took over 5 hours just to lay the contact paper down to create the wood floor effect. All the signage and posters were created by the class and printed by the students at home.
Following this class, after high school, all of these students went on to attend Art Center full time for college. I know all these amazing students have gone on to do even bigger and better things. This will always be one of the proudest highlights of my teaching career.