Interview x Tom Rushbrook – Senior Innovation Lead in Nike Zoo
I recently managed to catch up with Senior Innovation Lead in Nike Zoo (with the legend that is Tinker Hatfield), Tom Rushbrook to ask him a few questions. Tom's a super talented fellow brit, having designed for brands like Puma and Nike, Tom's already a vet at just 33. Check out what he has to say about how he got started in the footwear industry, what inspires him when he designs, how many times people in america laugh at him for saying 'trousers', and much more, below. 0Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you first got into design?
Im a 33yr old Englishman, clean driving license, no pets currently shacked up in the US.
I graduated back in 2002 with a Masters in Product/Automotive Design from Coventry University. I was always a sneaker fiend and thought that ftw was far more interesting than designing door handles on a Ford Focus. I remember my first glimpse into the Ftw world was watching a documentary about a couple of guys on my course who had previously graduated and had interned at RBK in US, this ignited the flame... 0
During my degree I tried to get as much exposure to ftw as I could taking part in various competitions and internships.
After I graduated I was offered a job in France at Decathlon, Id never heard of this company before but decided to pack the car and drive over.. 4 years later I was still there, loving every minute of it. I was mainly designing pricepoint running shoes, but was also able to dabble in innovation projects. This is where I realized that performance innovation was my true passion and a goal I decided to follow. 0
During my time in France I was introduced to KG and battled it out alongside Zenith Chance and Pep Martens who also worked there.. KG was a great diversion for me, and really allowed not only me but the majority of those who partook to really begin to stretch our creative muscles. The website was a great forum for likeminded discussions, advise and a chance to talk ftw. I'm not the first to say it but the day the site shut down was a dark day for me..I had a lot to thank those guys for. 0
After France I was offered a job at PUMA in Germany working on the motorsport category. This was my first step into the realm of true athlete lead performance product, meeting with F1 drivers and motorcycle riders to gain insight into what they truly needed to better the product, this has and always will be part of my design mantra.. During my 5 years at Puma I was able to work with so many great athletes and gain invaluable insights. I left Puma in 2010 as the Creative directing manager for performance ftw as I was offered a great chance to be part of the NIKE golf design team. It was a huge dream for me to one day stroll the hallowed hallways of the Beaverton campus and work for Nike. During my 1.5yrs at Nike golf I was able to work on great product with an amazingly talented team. Again druing my time with Golf I was able to work with great athletes and drive product innovation through these insights. 0
And then this week I started my new role as Innovation lead within the top secret NIKE ZOO team, where I now get the chance to realise a dream working alongside the design greats - Tinker Hatfield, Eric Avar, Aaron Cooper, Mark Smith. The ZOO is basically an extremely small group of designers and makers who’s job it is to conceptualize daily to imagine the next big thing.. I am VERY humbled to part of the team. Believe me when I say its a dream come true. 0
Toughie.... It has to be a toss up between AJXI space jams or the Nike Mayflys. No need to explain the AJ choice but to me the Mayfly was the impetuous or the whole lightweight revolution we are currently seeing. It truly turned the whole idea of ftw, materials, constructional and even graphics on its head and asked questions on how to strip product to their rawest elements. 0
If I say everything it ll sound like a cop out right..? If I told you that every morning I spend at least an hour browsing various sites, it ll make me sound lazy..? Oh well.. Every morning I spend at least an hour trawling thru various bookmarked websites ranging from fashion, automotive, science, news. I believe in order to be inspired and create innovative product you need to be aware of what is happening around you be it in terms of trends, technology or even economics. I used to save images that inspired me into a folder on my desktop but realized that, hey if they inspire me I should share them and maybe they ll help inspire others, so I created a Tumblr account as a braindump -http://championthepositives.
Progression. As I stated numerous times above – Athlete and consumer insight is the greatest form of research we have available to us, sure we can design craziness inspired by moth wings and the new Bugatti, but ultimately it has to work and PERFORM. Athletes are experts in what they do, they don t necessarily agree with what we want but the goal is to push and perfect holistically. Whether you re designing a $15 budget running shoe or a $300 performance football (soccer) boot it must perform better than its predecessors, whether that is thru weight reduction, value enhancement or cushioning. 0
What do you know now that you wished you'd have known when you first started?
Toughie... I guess never be afraid to as questions be it to gain better insight or to question the actual brief..You need to be sure that what you’re creating is right for both the consumer and the market. The market place is changing rapidly around us and there is NO place in it for product that does not provide a solution to a problem or answer a market need. 0
Play nicely – The design world is TINY and you soon build a reputation within it good or bad, be sure to fall into the former and not the latter...
Sketch!!! Sure we can all photoshop the shit out of a design but that design has to be good to start with. Always carry a sketch book and keep that sucker SAFE. Sketching is the seed of all great ideas and the quicker and clearer you can get that down on paper the better.
Remember what we do is and has to be a passion. We are in a fortunate position to work with what we love, we get to travel, meet amazing people and see our creations become reality.. We could be selling cars...
And never give up – Fight for what you believe in and make that goal to strive towards...And remember ENJOY YOURSLEVES!