Inside Blue Ribbon Studio, Nike’s Madcap Design Workshop

Nike’s world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, spans nearly 300 acres and dozens of colossal buildings — including the newly opened Serena Williams Building, officially the largest structure in the world. state, with an area of ​​more than one million square feet. But hidden among all the corporate vastness, you’ll find the beating creative heart of the campus: Blue Ribbon Studio, a unique design studio where Swoosh’s design minds retreat to play with different vehicles, fuel their imagination, and just take freak in pursuit of their next big idea.

Named after Nike’s original moniker (the company started out as Blue Ribbon Sports), the studio is a tribute to the kind of hands-on tinkering that led co-founder Bill Bowerman to some early innovations. the brand’s greatest (like the running sole he originally built using his wife’s iron wheels). Anyone who’s spent time in a high school art room will recognize the vibes, from metal stools to large wooden drafting tables to an abundance of materials and supplies. arranged in every corner. Chances are, however, your tenth-grade art teacher just doesn’t have access to a Nike-sized budget—hence modern 3D printers, screen printing presses, laser cutters, and more. dip dyeing station.

While touring our campus for our feature of the 50 greatest Nike sneaker collaborations for GQSeptember issue, photographer Michael Schmelling also fixed his lens on Blue Ribbon Studio. Here’s an inside look at where so many collaborations first took shape, bringing the original spark or key design breakthrough to some of the most hyped sneakers of all time.

A bucket of Swooshes cut from leftover scraps of fabric. Inside Blue Ribbon Studio, Nike’s Madcap Design Workshop

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