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COOL HUNTING

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Scott Patt is the Creative Director at Converse. In addition to more than 11 years of design experience in commercial footwear and fashion, he also exhibits his artwork everywhere from San Francisco to Tokyo. He spearheaded 1HUND(RED), a collaboration with the (PRODUCT) RED initiative to fight AIDS in Africa in which Converse is releasing 100 exclusively designed shoes from artists around the world. Patt's contribution to the project is "100 Ripples of Hope" (pictured at right). We spoke to him about this project and his work with Converse.

You're the Global Creative Director of Converse. What responsibilities do you have?
As Creative Director I am responsible for the design vision and direction of all of the shoes Converse makes around the world and ensuring our product continues to represent the iconic and authentic nature of the brand. That being said, my job is a small part of an amazingly talented team that makes Converse what it is and truly brings it to life. I came here about three years ago to solely focus on the stewardship and design extension of the world’s most iconic footwear franchise: the Chuck Taylor All Star. I learned it’s not just a physical shoe, or even just an American/global icon, but almost a spiritual entity that throughout the last 100 years has been indelibly connected to sport, music, art and culture. It is a transcendent phenomenon in that it is the most democratic shoe in the world that everyone wears in their own way.

You spent eight years designing for Nike. What did you take out of that experience and why did it end?

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The great thing about Nike Inc. is that it is truly a community and family. There was never a time in eight years in the different jobs that I was a part of that I did not encounter the same common goal of enriching the lives of people through sport. In its purest form, it’s beautiful and heroic.

I came to Converse not only for a new life challenge but also because it has the same authenticity. But Converse's authenticity really resonated for me in its birthright in basketball since the early 1900s and the brand's adoption into music and popular culture in the late '50s.

You're an accomplished studio artist as well. How does that work inform your commercial work? Or are they two separate disciplines?
They are very much related on many levels. Converse is THE art brand. Some of the greatest artists now and over the past 50 years have chosen Converse as their brand. Not to mention, the All Star itself is the greatest mobile blank canvas ever created, next to the classic white t-shirt. In regards to my studio work, it is inter-related with my commercial work in that they are both about solving or exploring problems and ultimately about connecting to others on some level. The biggest difference between the two is audience specificity, content and price. Those factors equate to accessibility.

Regardless of the boundaries between the commercial and studio work; great stories, ideas and concepts are what resonate the loudest either in a gallery or on the shelf. The blurring of the current creative class (or whatever you want to call it) makes for an exciting time in the evolution of both studio and commercial art. It's broadened the opportunities both ways for a lot of very smart people.

How did you get involved with the 1HUND(RED) project?
I had initially conceptualized 1HUND(RED) with Ben Edwards [who runs Converse (RED)] and a couple of others but it wasn't until an army of people got involved that the project became possible. Our main goal was to engage artists, illustrators, musicians, designers from around the world who love Converse and invite them to help make change in Africa through Converse (RED). We curated over 400 artists, ultimately narrowing it down to 100 commercially viable shoes. When we selected the shoes we did it blindly so we did not know which artists we were picking and did it solely on the power of the finished work. Much like a call for entries in a gallery show.

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Are there any designs in the project you particularly enjoy?
Wow, that's tough. There are so many great pieces of art. To name a few out of the 100: Jeremyville, Camilla Engman and Megan Whitmarsh's designs are graphically beautiful. Dr. Romanelli and Tim Liles's designs are just plain smart! The most directly connected and impacting is definitely Michael White's tribute to his late brother Dondi White, a founding pioneer of graffiti writing from the late '70s and '80s.

But beauty is relative. Check them out for yourself.

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