Industrial Design Students Collaborate with Nike for Olympic Product Designs
Students in Jim Shook’s senior product design class have a shot at designing products for the 2012
Olympics thanks to an innovative collaboration with Nike. The partnership not only gives
these School of Industrial Design students a chance at international acclaim, they’re also getting
the opportunity to gain real-world experience designing for one of the top names in sporting
Nike asked the students to design
products for two new sports that will be added for the 2012 Olympic Games – Ultra Marathon Trail
Running and Ultra Mountain Bike Racing. The products were to be designed to be worn by the
athletes during the event and to ensure that their hydration and nutrition needs were met
Both of the new events are extreme sports covering more than 100 miles of rugged
terrain. The intense demands on the athletes require products that are uniquely tailored
to the task. As part of the class project, students researched the events to ensure
they created designs that would be most beneficial to the athletes. They contacted potential
Olympics participants, one of whom visited the class to answer students’ questions about how they
would use the products.
Each student was urged to come up with a story about their design and how it fit the needs of
the athlete. The “story approach” gives more focus and clarity to the challenge. It
enables the students to create a solution that satisfies the technical requirements for the
product, but also touches upon the participant’s emotional connection with the activity. “The
result of this story approach to design is that you get a more compelling result. It’s not
just the average design for the average use,” Jim said.
In the past, he said that industrial designers focused
on creating designs that would attract the most people. The current trend is to focus more on
an individual story or lifestyle and design for that user’s experience. One student’s
background story focuses on how the athletes need to plan their entire race so that they have
expended all of their energy at the end of the 100-mile race, but not until then. He is
designing a product that functions similarly and will be “used up” at the end of the race.
The student designs are a great reflection of the intense work that leads up to the finished
product. For the final project, each student presents a summary of their research and design
process in addition to the sketches and models that culminated in the final design.
The right one just may make it into the Olympics. Nike will review the final designs
and, if one looks like a winner, it will be developed for possible use in the 2012 Olympic Games.