Above the Fold: Luke McConnie, Senior Footwear Designer
In Above the Fold, we spotlight individual members of Coroflot's vibrant creative community. The idea is to take you behind the scenes and inside the minds of talented Coroflot members who we think are doing exceptional work. Coroflot was created by designers, for designers, and Above the Fold is the place where we can talk to creatives about work that we not only love, but think you'll love too!
Footwear design is one area of design that seems to attract an aura of coolness. This makes sense when you consider how interlaced (get it?) footwear is with fashion, sports, and popular culture. All of these factors make it one of the more sought after paths in the realm of product design. Luke McConnie has spent over ten years as a footwear designer. His work includes shoe designs for lifestyle, sportswear, outdoor activities, sailing, and soccer among other things. As a footwear designer, Luke seems less concerned with creating flashy, attention-grabbing shoes than he is with producing designs that are fresh, compelling, and functional. It's also worth noting that almost every time Luke posts a new project on Coroflot, he makes a point to include every step of the process, from sketches to final product photos. Recently, we had the opportunity to talk with Luke and get a closer look at what pushes him creatively.
Was there a specific moment in life where you realized you wanted to pursue a creative path?
Not really, I've always been someone who thrives on creativity. I think I was just hardwired to work within an industry where I could be creative.
Who are your design heroes?
As clichÃ©d as it sounds, Nike's Tinker Hatfield has to go down as a hero for all the iconic shoes he designed throughout my childhood. It was, after all, Air Jordans that got me into sneaker culture. However, having worked within the footwear industry for over a decade, I've witnessed so many talented people that I would consider most inspirational. I also admire Dwayne Edwards for the working he is doing at Pensole, educating and inspiring new designers to go forth in industry. Outside of footwear, I love the work of many, from furniture design to architecture. Hans J Wagner, Dieter Rams, Zaha Hadid and Jacques Herzog spring to mind as influences.
Can you share some details about your most recent project?
My most recent project, the 'Ecco Biom Venture', became a labor of love, and I think that passion transcended throughout the team who helped get the product to market. In a nutshell, the brief was to design a multipurpose outdoor shoe, suitable for a variety of activities and terrain. I wanted to tackle the project with a holistic approach, so every single element of the shoe was considered in line with Ecco's philosophy of 'Form Follows Function'.
Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?
I recently relocated back to the UK to work for specialist trail running brand Inov-8. They are a young and ambitious company who could be considered as underdogs when in comparison to the bigger brands, but what they lack in size they gain in agility. Inov-8 have to live up to their name and keep innovating, so with that in mind I'm looking forward to designing and contributing to lots of exciting and challenging projects.
Walk us through some of your process for creating.
My process usually starts by dissecting a given brief - I find it's always important first to understand the 'why'. Why is it important for the consumer? Why is it needed by the business? I then make a note of which boxes I need to tick, the fun part comes when identifying areas of the brief where I can push the boundaries or put my own personal stamp on the project. I usually start the creation process by gathering images and materials; I look for inspiration in the most obscure places, which helps to feed my imagination. Sketches start pretty loosely and keep developing incrementally until I have a design that is ready to sign off and hand over for the development process to begin.
What is your favorite project that you've completed and why?
That's a hard one to answer, some of my most favorite work I like for different reasons, so I couldn't choose one over another.
What tools (physical or digital) do you find yourself using repeatedly?
Alias SketchBook Pro has definitely become a regular tool for concept generation. If I need a quick burst of inspiration, I find Pinterest particularly useful for imagery.
Is there any work out there that you've come across recently that you've really loved?
I have an obsession with color and was so mesmerized by the work of Shane Griffin that I ordered a print from his latest collection called 'Chromatic'.
Do you have a ritual for getting in work/design mode (music you listen to, certain exercise, food you eat) aka a productivity tip?
Music. It's that simple, my headphones are my savior.
Outside of your professional life, do you have any other creative outlets or hobbies?
Anything that feeds my curiosity or imagination, which usually comes in the form of travel, music, running, or the great outdoors.
If you're stuck on a desert island and can only bring three (design) tools, what are they?
I'm guessing there would be no electricity? Otherwise, I'd have to take the Wacom. Aside from that it would be an A4 sketch pad, pencil and biro pen.
Do you have any tips for getting the most out of your Coroflot portfolio?
Share the work you'd love to do more of.