Puma’s Kevin Redon: Interview
One of the freshest young designers out there right now, Kevin Redon has just wrapped up his first year working for Puma and has plenty to talk about. We got a chance to catch up with the self proclaimed 'baby' designer with choppy English and killer clean designs to find out a little bit more. Take a look at our interview and some of his work below.......
CK: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I'm a fresh baby designer who has been with Puma for one year now.
I studied product design for 5 years in Paris after a STI Baccalaureate (Science & Technique of the Industry). In short, I learned machining, technical drawing engineering etc... with a lot of fun and pleasure mixed in along the way. This is where I got my technique & my "maniac" side. Beyond that I've painted a lot of walls and others vertical stuff (or not) for something like 7 years with real passion. Maybe this is where I developed the other side
CK: What inspires you to design?
I love to watch colorful graffiti, concept cars & motorbikes shapes, fashion accessories' details, animated manga lines with loud music on top (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDFmgjs7OSM). I'm always super impressed by those graffiti artists with such nice handwriting or transport designers with this crazy dynamism on their sketches !
CK: What is one of your favorite pairs of shoes that you have designed and why (concept or production)?
The first shoe that you design that comes out is always something really special. Thanks to Axel CATTAUX by the way, for my first internship at TSS !!
But without hesitation: My first performance shoe with PUMA that I designed last season, sorry for the impatient and curious but I can not really tell much about it... It was a shoe for the pit crew teams for all brand partners: Ferrari, BMW, Mercedes, Ducati associated with Motorsport. It was my first real complete season, a relatively important style to do, a totally new design (complete shoe: upper & outsole), I was proud of my little concept behind the outsole etc... Also as you may know, we work with a price that we can't exceed, THE "FOB"! to build, create a shoe and I've never gotten so much "money" (high price point) before. Its funny but I was almost intimidated! I learned a lot during the design process about EVA as well as tooling and upper construction thanks to my developer with whom I worked so close. I was also really happy that my boss trusted me so fast.
CK: Working in the Motorsports category what type of product do you work on?
The category is split in two sub-categories: 4 wheel performance & lifestyle and 2 wheel performance & lifestyle. For the 4 wheel performance we mostly work on F1 and have recently debuted GRC shoes. Some of these are fireproof! It's always a challenge to bring a new concept or idea to this type of shoe due to the material issue which needs to pass THE test. I never had the opportunity to work on these pilot shoes before, I'm still a "baby" designer you know I've been working on pit crew shoes as I told you earlier, then it's about "training" take downs (semi-performance) and lifestyle take downs.
June 1st 2012, was the official launch of the new GRC products (Global RALLY Cross). Then for the 2 wheel shoes it is more or less the same story: these are motorbike high and mid boots as you may know maybe the PUMA V.1000 boots (one of my top 5 performance shoes). I've been working on totally new boots: tooling, outsole, upper...
CK. After interning with Puma you were soon hired as a Junior Footwear Designer, what type of things did you learn during your 7 month internship that got you ready to be brought on full time?
First of all, the REAL design time line! It was even worse when I was in the SMU/Key Account team. Sometimes the design itself must be done for tomorrow (caricature/sketch). Then for the reality of a shoe, construction wise for example, once we get out directly from our school and have our crazy/fancy sketches and designs with a BIG spatial concept but of course at one point the shoe must be realizable Then there is the current work life: managing everything between mails, meetings, and all different shoe briefings. But no worries its possible and keep drawing concepts that are even more and more crazy and still have time for checking facebook lol.
CK: Now that you are in a full time position how has your role changed and what are some things you maybe weren't expecting?
I have more responsibility of course and we have to take more decisions on our own, you must really follow and take care of your babies throughout the process. I also travel a lot: Vietnam for development, Boston for reviews, and some store check-ins at big cities. There are at least 3 trips a year and I love that! One thing as a junior Designer I was not expecting was to take care of interns, but it happened naturally and it was super great each time.
CK: A lot of young designers get internships, what type advice would you give them to take advantage of the opportunity and potentially turn it into a full time position?
Always do your best even if it's only colors/CAD updates. We all know its something very boring but everyone must do it at one point: interns, junior designers, or even senior designers!! Be "over productive", show to every single person that you really love your job. This is what I did and I went through Motorsports, Teamsports, SMU & Key Account categories during my internship AND every manager/ senior designer pushed for me when I finally ask for a full time!!
CK: What advice/portfolio tips would you give to anybody looking to break into the industry?
If I can say something, even as a young designer, then this is what I learned from my different interviews:
Show only what you are proud about (to be confident), not too much (to be efficient), not too few (to be interesting), and finish with something that BEATS everything! (to f**k the others) It's an interview that you have to win. Don't get me wrong, stay humble. The guy in front of you is way better than you
CK: Any last thoughts you would like to add?
Be proud of your design, throw it wherever you can.
CK: Big thanks to you sir and we're looking forward to seeing whats next !