Nike Launches Serena Williams Design Building On Its 50th Anniversary

Photo credit: Jean Catuffe – Getty Images

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For Nike’s design team, there is no finish line.

The sportswear brand, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary and launched its Athlete Think Tank, continues its evolution towards a more diverse, creative and inclusive business. Today he opened his Serena Williams building in Beaverton, Oregon. The futuristic structure, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city’s white oak landscape, will serve as the arts hub of the Nike Campus: where the company’s 1,000 designers will brainstorm, collaborate and create the company’s future.

Photo credit: Jeremy Bitterman/Courtesy of Nike

Photo credit: Jeremy Bitterman/Courtesy of Nike

On the fourth floor is the design studio, framed by long rows of hanging fabrics in every color imaginable. This is where the artists will draw, try out different materials and build prototypes. There’s also a more informal art studio elsewhere on campus where designers can experiment with screen printing, painting, yarn, appliqués, and just about everything in between. It is said to be the favorite place of the Serena Williams Design Crew, which is the group of apprentices (designers of different ages, identities and artistic cultures) creating the quadruple’s sports and leisurewear collection Olympic medalist with Nike. .

“To me, the Serena building is a bookend to the LeBron James building,” Nike design director John Hoke told reporters earlier this month inside the Olympia auditorium, named of the tennis pro’s daughter.

The campus is made up of various buildings and structures dedicated to top athletes (including LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Mia Hamm, Michael Jordan, and Cristiano Ronaldo). Hoke said exclusively BAZAAR.com that they choose to work with world sports stars who are “agents of change”. He said: “Serena is a perfect example. Serena is an amazing person. She’s honestly the best tennis player in the world, but in her own right she’s an artist, she’s creative and she’s an advocate for ‘diversity.’

Photo credit: Jeremy Bitterman/Courtesy of Nike

Photo credit: Jeremy Bitterman/Courtesy of Nike

His building, he says, is an embodiment of her. “There are a lot of Easter eggs in the building…these little discoveries that are part of the design process, which…our team made to remind us of Serena Williams’ journey and her impact on the world of sports and culture. This building is a vessel that I think embodies his whole spirit,” Hoke said.

While the James building is the center of innovation, research and science, the Williams building is about product creation and creativity. Hoke said he called the former the “temple of innovation” and the latter “the temple of imagination.”

James’ building is “about science, research, everything we can learn about athletes and… what their bodies need”. Williams’ building is to “serve this knowledge creatively and creatively”. The first is science, the second is art. The first is the functionality, the second is the creation of forms. The first is utility, the second is beauty, he said.

Merging the two worlds is the heart and philosophy of Nike: “backed by the knowledge of science” and “translating that knowledge into beautiful products that help athletes move forward”.

Photo credit: Jeremy Bitterman/Courtesy of Nike

Photo credit: Jeremy Bitterman/Courtesy of Nike

From the inside, the building is a working art gallery, with colorful murals (many of them by Williams) adorning key accent walls, custom rugs made by different artists from around the world, woodcuts of Nike prints along the office spaces, large multi-media installations throughout, and different creative “districts” that come together like the branches of a tree in the central bridge, which holds everything together. Nature has the same importance and is treated as a masterpiece. Each floor showcases a different type of Oregon ecology. Level four, where the designers are, is the high desert. The first floor and lobby are a classic rainforest, the top floor offers city views, and next to a moving video sculpture is a garden filled with Williams’ favorite flower: the rose. There is also a natural running track that circles the entire campus, encouraging employees to stay active.

“The whole building takes your breath away. Every element, wherever you go, is an opportunity to be inspired. I hope this building will encourage people to bring out their best and dream more bigger than they thought possible,” Williams said. “To me, Nike is the ultimate place to innovate and be a designer. Knowing that this building will be home to Nike’s product design and consumer creative teams is incredibly surreal. amazing things I’ve been to.”

Photo credit: Jeremy Bitterman/Courtesy of Nike

Photo credit: Jeremy Bitterman/Courtesy of Nike

Nature also plays an important role in Nike’s current aesthetic design and product development factory for the next 50 years. Hoke said BAZAAR that it’s not just about researching or creating environmentally friendly materials and trying to reduce energy consumption and waste, for them it’s about “biomimicry, which tries to reproduce nature,” he said. “I think we are on the precipice of bio-mastery, which is not just replicating but thinking, acting and behaving like nature,” Hoke added. “People often ask me who my favorite designer is, and I always say, ‘It’s pretty easy, it’s mother nature.'”

A piece recently released from the Williams collection is a sports jacket created for the Australian Open, which has the ability to keep the wearer warm or cool, depending on the temperature they are exposed to. It does this not just through its materials, but through its black-and-white pattern, which Hoke said the designers modeled after the contrasting stripes of a zebra, which regulate the animal’s body temperature.

Photo credit: Jeremy Bitterman/Courtesy of Nike

Photo credit: Jeremy Bitterman/Courtesy of Nike

Jarvis Sam, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at Nike, said BAZAAR that it has been amazing to see the work of the underrepresented designers of the Serena Williams Design Crew, many of whom were born outside of the United States. equipment), you start to see the impact and influences of things like the refugee experience, the immigrant experience, English being a second language as part of the experience – as well as cultural heritage come in at stake in the materials used and the story being told.”

Having this melting pot of cultures and perspectives translated into design was one of the most important aspects of the activewear collaboration, for Williams, who herself became a symbol of fearlessness and empowerment on the court, for the people of color and for women around the world.

Speaking about the athlete’s non-traditional (designed by Nike) tennis outfits, which take risks with their cuts, silhouettes, patterns and colors, Jonathan Johnsongriffin, Global Creative Director of Innovation, Design, Athletes and the purpose of the company, said BAZAAR, “She wants to invest herself fully in the world of tennis, and you can see that the generations that will come after her also embrace this idea of ​​’I can give my all on the court.’ And that’s really important.”

Photo credit: Jeremy Bitterman/Courtesy of Nike

Photo credit: Jeremy Bitterman/Courtesy of Nike

Today, as Nike celebrates 50 years with Williams, Hoke said they seek to continue to “combine athlete ambition with Nike imagination” and, never forgetting their commitment to environment and the diverse communities and individuals of the world, “rethinking the way we design from the ground up.”

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