A few weeks ago, we announced that Oliver Vranesh was the winner of The Next Sneaker Design Star contest, and was headed to a multi-day apprenticeship with Reebok Classic. Now, we check-in with him after Day 1 from his trip to Canton, Mass.

When I arrived at Reebok I was astounded by the beauty of their campus. While looking at my surroundings, this is when it reality hit me--this whole contest felt real and somehow I actually won.

Reebok made it known that this was a place of innovation and fitness culture. This building must inspire its employees to push themselves with the same energy that is embodied in the architecture. This, of course, was seen and experienced firsthand when I met Matt Heller, the design director of Reebok Classic. This dude could draw and think a mile a minute; I was surprised to see all the sketches he threw on paper during the design meeting. After the meeting I was looking at what he had done and I was all “When did he do that sketch?!”

 

Matt and the Classics team were very friendly, intelligent, and genuine. I was nervous when I presented my design to them, and it didn’t help wearing a sweater in a hot room while doing so. (I was sweating cold bullets.) The presentation went surprisingly smooth. Overall, I thought their critique proved to be very helpful and true, but three things did stick out to me:

- Slapping a logo on the side of a design may seem like a great solution, but it seems more of a cop-out. There are better ways to incorporate a company’s DNA and aesthetic onto a product.
- Telling a story with your design is always a positive; it helps design details become clear and it aids with the strength of your design presentation.
- Product designers are way nicer and more “straight to the point” than architects when it comes to a design critique.

The meeting was great and a totally priceless experience. There was a lot of advice that I will try to use in my future concepts--both in footwear design and architecture.

 

After the meeting I realized I had plenty of work ahead of me and my head was filled with ideas. Once I got back to the hotel I started sketching and decided I would work on a new CAD early in the morning when my eyes were fresh. I was basically sent back to the hotel with a design challenge I had to figure out in a short period of time. All I had to do the next morning was present my design to the global design and marketing team…no pressure.