Course: Foundation Diploma in Art and Design
Year of Graduation: 2001
Without the foundation course at Ravensbourne prompting me to try different options, I never would have chosen this career path. As I finished my A levels it was still unclear to me what to do next. I loved art, but that could have translated into many different paths. My tutor suggested a foundation course; six paths to try and then the opportunity to specialise in one of them for the rest of the year. I had zero interest in what I thought the fashion category would be... However, after two weeks in fashion at Ravensbourne something shifted and I loved it. It was fun, free and I loved the history of rule breakers in fashion.
My tutor had faith in me and saw something I never recognised I had. With six different subjects - from fine art to filmmaking - it’s an understatement to say you had a diverse range of tutors! I’d been told many things in education but very rarely encouraged within the system. The thing that really sticks out was the huge studio with everyone in one room - the energy and the buzz of all being together. I’ve never experienced it since, but always thought it was a special vibe that I would like to recreate one day at Nike.
In my role as design director at Nike Football I work on our most innovative on pitch performance solutions, as well as athlete collections for Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Júnior among many other projects. I absolutely love what I do. It’s such a privilege to work for Nike, and to work with the amazing creatives it attracts. My role is to set the direction for the team to design against and create the modern look of football. Nike’s ethos of solving athlete problems is the perfect brief and drives everything we do. I spend a lot of time with consumers and athletes from all over the world, absorbing insights and responding to them.
Designing ‘For Naija’, the Nigerian collection for the 2018 FIFA World Cup is a career highlight to date. It was talked about throughout the tournament and received so well. The mission was clear — to disrupt the tournament and break some boundaries we were experiencing internally and externally. It's the first licensed team project I have worked on for a while, but eternally my favourite. The exposure it has received and the genuine hype from people to get the product and represent Nigeria is mindblowing. Skepta, Wizkid and the Nigerian team were just a selection of perfect muses for the project. They have shown the current fusion of performance and culture in football, and represent the two coming together fantastically. Of course seeing these influencers wear our product is incredible, but when you work at Nike this is a constant. It’s important to use it as a driver in tough moments.
My role was to disrupt the traditional approach to kit design. I knew we had to create a whole collection that showed the culture of ‘Naija’, so I bought in multiple designers with different skill-sets to reach far beyond normal expectations creatively. Everything was pushed to the absolute limit, challenging the design team to create something really special. Nigerian culture is evolving rapidly. Its art, music and fashion is represented all over the world, so inspiration was abundant and exciting.
I would encourage current students to try to break the mould and put their personality into their work. Stand for something that represents your ethos and then apply your process to any briefs or tasks ahead. The reality is that the industry is small and thousands of students graduate each year, so you need to stand out. I believe this comes from finessing your work and questioning it from all angles. You can almost instantly identify the students who have really gone deep into the creative process and have developed their own design signature. It sounds a little mad, but you almost have to get so into it that it absorbs you and spits you back out when you have something.