Nike’s world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon spans nearly 300 acres and dozens of towering buildings, including the newly opened Serena Williams Building, officially the tallest structure in the state. , with over one million square feet. But nestled amidst the towering corporate sprawl, you’ll find the beating creative heart of campus: Blue Ribbon Studio, an offbeat atelier where the design minds of the Swoosh retreat to play with different mediums, recharge their imaginations, and just get weird in pursuit of their next big idea.

Named after Nike’s original moniker (the company started out as Blue Ribbon Sports), the studio is an ode to the kind of hands-on DIY that led co-founder Bill Bowerman to some of the greatest innovations in the world. brand (like the running insoles he originally made with his wife’s waffle maker). Anyone who’s ever spent time in a high school art room will recognize the vibes, from the metal stools to the large wooden drafting tables to the glut of materials and supplies piled high in every corner. However, chances are your tenth-grade art teacher didn’t have access to a budget the size of Nike – hence the state-of-the-art 3D printers, presses for screen printing, laser cutters and immersion dyeing stations.

While hitting campus for our article on Nike’s 50 Greatest Sneaker Collaborations For QGIn his September issue, photographer Michael Schmelling also set his sights on Blue Ribbon Studio. Here’s a look at where so many of these collaborations first took shape, providing the initial spark or crucial design breakthrough for some of the hottest sneakers of all time.

A bucket of Swooshes cut from fabric scraps.

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