Glue Footwear Design Conference in Portland OR

Next week, July 20 and 21st will be the Glue Footwear Design Conference here in Portland.

Speakers include:

Ashley Comeaux
- VP Design Allbirds
Michael DiTullo - independent design consultant
Samantha Noyes - founder of Studio Noyes
Aaron Powers - Cole Haan
Anthony Saul Lopez - Creative Director at All Design Lab
Gemo Wong - former head of special projects at Brand Jordan

And both nights will have some pretty big parties :smiling_face:

Day 1 will be at the Wacom Experience Center and Day 2 will be held at the Autodesk Fusion 360 HQ.

Get more info and tickets here:


It was super fun to put together the presentation for this. I even dug up some pictures of me from 1985… the year the Air Jordan 1 came out… and impressionable moment!

I’m super excited to see the talks from friends Ashley Comeaux, VP at Allbirds (who was also my last intern at Converse… yikes, feeling old, but proud), Gemo Wong, former head of special projects at Jordan who I used to work closely with back in the day, and Aaron Powers Cole Haan… or as you might know him @apowers on the boards… though it has been awhile since he posted here, he used to post work a lot as a student.

I’ll mostly be talking about my time post Nike and how I use that process with clients like Arc, Biltwell, and Kirei and showing a new project for Defender, a super comfy clog called the Cloud 9 for folks with diabetes with the same 22mm 3 material drop in midsole as the protective boot we designed to heel diabetic foot wounds… it also turns out it is just a crazy comfy slipper for anyone. Kind of an OXO effect.

Day 1 is tomorrow! Looking forward to it.


Unfortunately, can’t make it to Portland so I’m gonna try out the live stream.

Looking forward to what everyone has to say!

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@ntrolz1 hope the livestream worked out! Heading to day 2 in a few minutes, but thought I’d share a few pics:

Before everyone came in at the Wacom Experience Center :slight_smile:

Hanging with Ashley Comeax, VP of Allbirds, and Jana Panfilio, former head of Nike consumer insights and founder of 6453, the Nike Alumni association.

I tossed up a pic of me from 1985… along with something else that happened in 1985 that got shoes on my brain forever :smiley: The AJ1!

And the reason I got my first job… so I could buy a pair of these in 1991

chatted through just a few of the Nikes, Jordan, and Converses I worked on…

Then I walked through 3 things working at Nike for 8 years taught me:

1) Learn to collaborate: be open to ideas from others and learn how to spot good ideas and lift them up, be open to changes, they can improve the end result if you work with them.

2) Clearly communicate: We often work with collaborators who English is a second or third language, or who may not know much about design and the value it has. We need to clearly communicate our thoughts and intentions.

3) Respect and build culture: every company and client has a unique culture, to be able to adapt to and work with that is key, also every project we work on is a part of a culture. How are we moving things forward? I think of that kid who was inspired in 1985 by the AJ1, am I making him happy?

Then I talked through 4 case studies from projects that went to production in the last 2 years that illustrate those 3 principles: The Arc One electric boat, the Biltwell Gringo SV motorcycle helmet, The Kirei Air Baffle with Nike Grind, and the Foot Defender and it the upcoming Cloud 9 footwear variant of it. It was a fun talk.

I missed Anthony Saul Lopez’s talk because I had a client call, but caught Gemo Wong’s talk about working with celebrities like Travis Scott and fashion/streetwear brands on Nike/Jordan collaborations… the need to clearly communicate, be open and collaborative, and manage the process end to end.

and of course some sneaker documentation in the audience!

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Some recaps from Day 2.

Samantha Noyes, founder of Studio Noyes, a footwear design consultancy here in Portland, waked us through some of her thoughts on 10 years in business… in 10 years she and her team have shipped more than 300 shoes.

This was the first shoe she ever worked on that went to production when she was in house at Palladium:

Work for The Northface:

Work for Pendleton:

Work for Spider:

Work for Avoli:

Then talked about having an empathy centered process. How she has designed product for children, yet has no children, performance volleyball shoes, yet isn’t a volleyball player, shoes for chefs to wear all day yet isn’t a chef, performance runners, but isn’t a runner… that she feels the key to be objective and observant.

Samantha also brought samples :slight_smile:

Next up was Aaron Powers from Cole Haan (@apowers) he talked about how his time as a competitive gamer made him accustomed to forums and so that brought him here to the Core77 forums as a young student and how seeing sketches from folks like Spencer Nugent (@snugja ) who were kind enough to share their process helped him.

Even working on his entry for Pensole and posting here before submitting and getting in:

And how that “crowd sourcing” mentality helped him at Nike as he gather ideas and openly contributed ideas to multiple teams while there.

Closing out the 2 day session with an awesome keynote was Allbirds VP of Design Ashley Comeaux. She started by showing some of her work for Nike.

I love the sense of humor this image shows :wink:

Then got into some of her work for Allbirds:

Then onto the bulk of her talk with was about the community n footwear design:

I really loved this quote, you can’t just take, you have to give:

Tips for young students in the crowd when looking for a mentor:

Never bad when you show up in someone else’s presentation amongst people you respect! She really showed the interconnectedness. It is a small world.

Thoughts on good vs bad networking techniques:

And I thought this was a powerful way to end. You are not who you say you are, you are who others say you are. If what you say about you and what others say don’t align that is a red flag. How your reputation precedes you.

All of the talks were great. While we all had our own experiences and perspectives, it was interesting how all of our themes rhymed and how we kept coming back to how important being open, kind, and helpful is.

I love how Ashley showed that through this slide. Kimberly Glover went to DASH and CCS then went on to Adidas and Jordan. She took the Time to mentor Therese Thornhill who also went to DASH and CCS then went to Nike, Jordan, now leads up the SEED initiative for Adidas. Cheresse mentored Ashley who went to DASH and CCS then to Nike and now Allbirds, and Ashley mentored Precious Hannah who also went to DASH and CCS and then Nike… that spirit of paying it forward and lending a hand to the people who come after you on full display here.

Thanks @hectorsilvajr for organizing this thing!

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And of course we capped it all off with some sketching together :fist_right::fist_left:… so much fun. Thanks @hectorsilvajr for capturing this!

Photo from the rooftop of the Autodesk Fusion 360 HQ where day 2 was held.

Oh man! This looks such a great learning event! Congratulations to the organizers and thank you to the speakers!

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Thanks @archiebolz it was a good time!

@ntrolz1 did I miss anything in my recap?

I think you covered all of it.

Unfortunately, I had to miss the last 2 presentations but the ones I was able to catch were well done.

I really liked Samantha Noyes’ presentation and her experience working outside of larger brands.

Always great to hear about paths outside of the ordinary!

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@ntrolz1 totally agree. I loved her presentation. I didn’t catch Anthony Saul Lopez’s on Thursday, did you?

I did catch his.

He focused on his Peel concept but approached it from a multidisciplinary design perspective and spoke about how design and creativity can be applied to any product.

So it was a bit more about creative process than specific footwear design but it was interesting none the less.

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@ntrolz1 gotcha. Hopefully it will be available to watch.

I didn’t know I was going to be opening the conference initially so I added the intro to my presentation about the AJ1 and my mom getting me Pony City Wings instead, and getting my first job to get a pair of Huaraches. I thought it would be a good way to touch on the cultural significance of footwear, at leas as it related to one kid growing up in the 80s just north of New York City. It certainly was fun for me to recount those stories.