Blake Scordino, from Birmingham Alabama, is a Bachelor of Industrial Design by Auburn University and also a Pensole alumnus.
He was also the winner of the design competition WAUbscure (a collaboration between WAU and Obscure Sneakers) which lead to having his concept available to the public.
When did you feel you had to become a footwear designer?
I felt the need to pursue footwear design after winning the Pensole. It was quite clear to me I had a good understanding of storytelling and translation of the story being told. I’m personally not really big on labeling myself to one area of design such as footwear as I have many fields of design, I've focused on having a skillset ranging from graphics, industrial, and footwear.
What were your first contacts with the culture?
I would say my first real contact with the culture was Dwayne Edwards. He makes sure his students get thorough detail, the history of sneaker culture, and its true origins so you understand how to tell authentic stories. When he invited me back to be a Teaching Assistant for his master class, I was so excited to have yet another opportunity to learn from this man, but as well to help share his message with his students. Truly one of the most humbling opportunities I’ve had to date. My second contact was being invited to work with a sneaker shop in my hometown Birmingham, AL called “The Shoe Clinic”. Alvin, Marcus, and Trey have taught me so much and I’d give anything for those guys-seeing their success is just as great as my own. It is extremely important to me to give back to them and to do whatever I can to help this crew reach the top.
Do you feel that being in the US made your life easier?
Absolutely, but being from the southeast has made it somewhat difficult as many in this region do not have a broad understanding of sneakers, and typically label me as some southern farmer country boy and brand me with a southern accent, and partake that I’m your typical southern redneck. I’m often overlooked as it is seen widely that people from the southeast can’t design or really even be educated to do anything, and frankly, I hate this stereotypical outlook on my region so I’ve decided to set out and break barriers, and bring knowledge to the people of my city so that they too can go out and become successful in this hard to tap in industry. No one is ever willing to hand out information-so whenever I am approached, I am ALWAYS willing to share and help someone grow regardless of anything about the person. I see potential in every single person. It's just about helping them grow, and understand that any goal is reachable all it takes is dedicated efforts driven by your passion.
People inside the US don’t understand how DIFFICULT it is for someone outside to break into the industry. I’ll never forget working alongside Razma Hassani and hearing her story. It was a very real motivation for me during my time competing at PENSOLE. My teammates deserved to be in the industry more than I did, and that is why I worked as hard as I did for those 3 weeks. I’m glad to see the success that they have reached since being in the industry.
What brands/ designers influence you the most?
To be honest most brands are really shallow and designers nowadays are giving in to this hype brandless taste. Even though we are headed towards a “brandless” society I don’t look at designers or brands. I pay attention to technology, science, and trends as I’m more interested in the progressive functionality of our footwear and blending them with expressive stories. What makes good design is mostly told by dieter rams exclaiming that good design is innovative, useful, and sustainable. I’m just fed up with most of these big brands that are feeding their big marketing lies and revenue-driven products to mass consumers on innovative design. Most of these designs are quite meaningless and are typically a scam in terms of “innovation” for long-lasting products.
You were the winner of the WAUBSCURE competition. What did you feel when you saw your creation being made?
At that time of winning the competition, I had given up on the footwear industry and being around a brand that cared little to none about the culture and showing 0 respect for the people, and the people who worked hours on end behind closed doors. I was convinced by my close friends to take a stab at it and I ended up winning which honestly blew my mind. I had 0 expectations. Seeing the shoe just simply reminded me to not give up on my mission to tell authentic stories in design and to give good design through function and aesthetic. I’ve forged an incredible relationship with Stefano from Obscure Sneakers, and I give a lot of praise to that guy for all the encouragement and advice he has lended me not just in design, but life as well.
What was your feeling when you were invited to be an underdog?
I was excited to influence a small brand that gives me an opportunity to still produce sneakers independently as I’ve decided to not step back into the big corp design industry. I hope to always carry the knowledge Dwayne gave me and be the best influence I can be to guide brands in an authentic manner of storytelling and sell beautiful products with beautiful stories.
Where do you envision yourself in 10 years from now?
Designing either video games, teaching design students, selling my own designed products (preferably furniture, maybe even architecture), a booming esports org, and being with a happy family. I’ve worked extremely hard and have barely slept for the past 6 years to bring what I have to fruition, but I trust my drive and my ability to always reach outside my comfort zone so I can pursue the climb for new mountains.
What would you say is your signature style in terms of sneaker designer?
Organic aesthetic intertwined with functionality. I solely believe in this process as humans get closer and closer to a more holistic society. Our mainstream design needs and wants will transform vastly to this style as people continue to look deeper and deeper into nature for our inspiration.
What mark would you like to leave in the industry?
I would like to leave a mark of authentic storytelling and designers standing TALL for themselves. Never let any person run you over for your work. Fight for it every time. Fight for what you believe in and don’t force yourself into an office that you don’t believe in. Big names are cool but don’t sacrifice your values, mental health, and creativity for a resume builder. Always hold tight to your heritage values, and your wisdom as a young designer to further cultivating the next generation of design.