Matt Irving (26)

Delphi Collective: Pixel related, Print related, Kind of related

Nike Dunk SB - Reese Forbes
aka "The Hunter Dunk"

View samples, variations, drafts, and Delphi Collective's T-shirts


Delphi Collective
Crownfarmer Interview
Nike Skateboarding
Interview. Matt Irving / Delphi Collective

So you get this shoe template - you open it up in Photoshop, you slap some colors on it, you pick some fabrics from the sample book they sent you and then, two weeks later, you have it - your own model. That's how it works, right? One could think that when looking at the shelves in the sneaker stores these days. Endless rows of random colorways, flowing through in a contstant and seemingly endless stream.

Once in a while, however, this stream is interrupted by a model or colorway that has a background, where there is a story to tell. One of these stories we were able to dig up with the help of the creative mind behind it. It's the new Nike Dunk SB Reese Forbes that was designed by Matt Irving at the Delphi collective.

In this, our longest interview to-date, you really get to read a lot about the design process for this shoe and the other one... as it was meant to be a set. Find out why this second model was dropped, how the materials were conceived, and how long it actually took to come up with this 'colorway'.

This is our Dunk! This is The Hunter Dunk!

Interview - Prelude

Before we start: how did you get to Beinghunted?
Beinghunted the website... I stumbled on it one day randomly and I liked that the site digs deeper into the design process of things that most people take for granted. But in terms of "becoming hunted"... Jörg hit me up for doing an article about the Nike SB shoe that I did. There's a lot more work that goes into designing a shoe or doing a color-way, so it seemed like a good idea to dig a little deeper. Inside perspectives are always interesting.

Are you hunting for anything yourself – is there a collection that you need to complete?
The main thing I'm hunting for are good memories and as much travel as possible. When it all boils down, it's the memories that truly matter. I used to collect lots of things, but one day I realized that collections really only fascinate the people who don't have them... so I just enjoy other peoples collections, it's way easier that way.

What are your favourite hunting grounds?
I guess if I'm hunting for anything, I'd have to say it's "ideas" that I'm always looking for. Everywhere you go there's always something new to be found, so I try to get as many ideas as possible down on paper. That's why travelling is the best hunting ground. Ideas can come from anything... a garbage can in Taiwan could inspire a skateboard graphic, or the masthead from a 60's magazine could be great inspiration for a T-shirt.


Please tell us about your background in the field of design and your professional activities.
Art school taught me that I didn't want to become an artist because of how fickle it can be. I taught myself how to use the computer and directed my ideas to what interested me most of all....skateboarding. Eventually things unfolded and work prevailed in California, so I moved there. Now after art directing Element skateboards for 4 years, I've moved on to become the Minister of Design for Stereo skateboards, and I work with Jason Lee and Chris Pastas on a daily basis.

How did you get involved with this project with Nike, how did it start?
The initial plan was to create a co-branded Element Dunk for Reese because he rode for Element at the time. We had 2 versions that were ready to roll for sampling but they fell prey to bureaucracy. At that point we just said "screw it" and started from scratch with our own ideas that didn't involve co-branding. In the end it was for the better because the final result is pretty random and interesting, whereas before we were more focused on logo placement and colors.

Were did you get your inspiration for the shoe(s)?
Reese just said he wanted to use tree camo and left it at that. I dug around for ideas and the whole shoe ended up being inspired by the type of clothing you would wear hunting. Tree camo and fluorescent orange were the initial approaches, and then the burlap sack made it's into the picture and the finishing touches actually popped into my mind one night when I was trying to go to sleep, QUILTED LINING!

Were there other concepts, too? If so please describe them and tell us why they were dropped.
As a rebuttal to the "Hunter" we also came up with a second shoe called the "Gatherer". It was inspired by the other type of people that often dwell in the forest, those earthy types. So it was made out of corduroy and sea-grass weave with macramé hemp laces and recycled rubber soles (well that was the plan anyway). Nike sampled those ones as well and they looked amazing, but apparently there's a rule that every shoe that Nike makes must be able to go through a washing machine and stay intact. These ones were cracking at the toe from wear and tear and if you stuck them in the wash they would probably turn into granola. Unfortunately I liked this shoe better than the Hunter.

Did you have any experiences with footwear design?
Not a bit of experience, I always try to get in way over my head and figure things out as I'm going. I've always been hyper-critical of shoes though and designing them has been a long-time dream. So why not start with designing a Nike Dunk?

The Hunter (and Gatherer) Dunk

Who else – besides yourself and Reese – was involved in this project? What were these people's roles?
Marcus Tayui is the special projects person at Nike SB but he has recently moved on to new position at Nike. Kevin Imamura was always in close proximity as well, he heads up the Nike SB program and makes sure that everything is in order. Then there's the team manager named Hunter, who I had never met and didn't even know about until recently. It's weird that we designed a shoe with his name, I just met him and he was a really great guy. He better wear the dam shoe though!

How did you work together with Reese? What was his role?
I just listened to Reese's initial idea of wanting to see something with tree camo and then kept him in the loop with all the variations. We went back and forth a lot until one just screamed out at us.

Briefly describe to us the stages of the design process.
Materials are obviously key to this shoe. We weren't reinventing the wheel, so the little details were what would set this shoe apart from the others. My personal rule was that no animal products would be used. I didn't expect people to be cool with that, but they seemed totally into it. Once all of the materials were selected I focused on trying to mess around with the way the shoe was built. I'd never seen a Dunk that had turned edges on the fabric, and I'd never seen a dunk that had any other style of stitch detail, so that's why the zig-zag stitch came about. It has a real handmade look to it that way. The first set of samples I saw really threw me off guard, they looked like knock-off Dunks, which I really liked.

Was it your goal from the beginning to use different materials on the shoe or how/when did you come up with the idea?
Definitely the goal was to set out and use materials that no one else had touched. The shoe will always stay the same, so we wanted to reinvent what it's made of. Keep in mind that we designed this over a year and a half ago. It took a while to sample, and then Nike decided it would best fit a Fall release, so they sat on it for a long time. Which was totally fitting. The weird thing is that just a couple of months ago, a whole bunch of Dunks came out with a burlap-type material, and the Hemp Dunks that everyone went bananas over were only 6 months ago. So the materials don't really feel that original to me at this point. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I hope our ideas helped inspired some of those other versions.

How did you source the materials? Were there any difficulties in getting the right camo, the right lining, etc.? Where (or who) found the materials?
For the Hunter I actually went to a gun store to find the tree camouflage but it was too expensive and had REALTREE logos worked into the fabric. I didn't want to have anyone's logos on the shoe and Marcus told me it would be a nightmare trying to use a Trademarked fabric, so I then hit up a fabric store to find a generic version that we could use. Going to the gun shop was a creepy experience, there was a pack of middle-aged men in business suits checking out hand guns. Not your average gun toting Americans, but then again maybe they are?

How long did it take for the first prototype/sample to be produced? What was your first impression?
The first prototypes were crazy to see, I was really blown away at seeing ideas in a three dimensional form. I'm not used to seeing product design because most stuff I design is a flat graphic on a T-shirt or skateboard. So that was a really rewarding experience. Both shoes looked really strange to me at first, but I always have a "looks weird" feeling to almost everything that I create. You get so used to looking at it on the computer that the real thing looks wrong.

How many different samples were produced? What were/are the differences between them?
I actually wish I could have seen all the samples. I guess they made a few with swapped panels like you can see in the sample photo. I like the final version best of all.

Are there any other products connected to this model? How were your ideas transferred to these products?
I don't think that there's anything else going with this shoe. I haven't see the catalog or any of their clothing for this season, but they often match up ideas to create a bit of a story. I think it would be great if they made a reversible hunting jacket with fluorescent orange quilting on the inside and waterproof tree-camo on the outside. They could also make an Elmer Fudd hunting cap too. I'd wear that everyday!

If you could have given the shoe individual packaging – what would that have looked like?
If I had my way, these shoes would have come in a wooden apple crate that stunk like an old musty sweater. Stuck in one shoe would be a pipe and a tin of "Old Morris" pipe tobacco and in the other shoe would be a flask of "Wild Turkey" whiskey.

What would you recommend one should wear with this shoe?
My professional opinion would be that these shoes work best when wearing a spandex ski-suit, diving mask & a snorkel. Maybe add in a Burmese Mountain dog on a leash and everywhere you go you've got a bratwurst in one hand and a tennis racket in the other.
[BGHD: wearing this right now... actually feels good; bratwurst is getting cold, though...]

Obviously you put a lot of work into this shoe. What are your thoughts/feelings when you see them being ‘skated to death' in no-time?
Skate ‘em up, that's what they're there for! I hope these don't sit on too many shelves collecting dust.


So, what's up next? Any new footwear plans?
Well, there's two shoes for Stereo that I helped design based on some existing Etnies shoes. They should be coming out in Fall 2005. After that we'll be making some other footwear I hope, but more of our own line of stuff that we create from scratch.

If you could design another shoe – whatever manufacturer, whatever model – which would it be?
Oh man, there's so many to choose from. I've always wanted to do a hi-top Dunk, and there's a whole bunch of great shoes from Adidas that could be fun to re-work. New Balance is maybe the ultimate company that I would love to mess around with and create a small run of Delphi 576's. I saw some really nice New Balance shoes in London, it was a co-op for a shop called "Offspring". Lacoste has some interesting ladies shoes, and Visvim is a really interesting company. They seem like they would be great to work with because their ideas are really random and fun. Can you guys hook any of that up?

What is going to happen with the samples of your project?
My sample pair came in size 13 so I can't wear them. I think I'll give those away to a friend, no EBAY for me. I'd rather see a friend sporting them. I'll keep a pair in 10.5 so I can wear them when I'm 50 years old. I also have two initial samples, but only the left foot, that I'll hang onto since the "Gatherer" isn't going to come out.


What is your favourite pastime besides work?
Work is definitely always on the brain because I love my job, especially with the line of Delphi shirts coming around the corner. Getting Delphi in ship-shape has sort of become a hobby that I tinker away on. How was that for a plug? But completely outside of work, I like to shoot lots of photos and fit in as many road trips as possible. I love going camping, but it never happens enough. Skating is fun when there's time, but those kickflips are looking a tad bit rusty these days.

Which are your top 5 skateshoes?
I really like the DC shoe that Michael Leon just designed. It's like a moccasin and a work boot had a baby together. A lot of the Clae shoes were great, it's a shame that they fell by the wayside. Vans Half-Cabs are pretty classic, you can't go wrong with the I-Path Grasshopper and I would have to say that the Nike Dunk is a favourite as well.

Any comments/shouts/hints...?
A big thanks to Reese Forbes and everyone at Nike SB for letting me mess around with their shoe. I had a great time and the free shoes arriving on the doorstep were nice as well. Thanks to Jason Lee and Chris Pastras at Stereo because they've really trusted me and passed over a lot of creative control of their company. Not to mention all of the world travel that I've been able to do lately. We're headed to Tokyo for a December 3rd art show at Beams that will remain up until the 12th. I've never been to Japan, but I'm excited to go and see a whole other world. Maybe we'll see you there? If so, say hello!

Who should we interview next? What should we feature next?
John Trippe – Fecal Face Dot Com
Bob Kronbauer – Crownfarmer
Michael Leon – Stacks
Curtis Bennett – Skate City Rollerz
Rich Hart – Plaitford Productions

October 2004

Beinghunted says thanks for the interview and all the best for the future!

All images: ©2004 Copyright by Delphi Collective and/or Nike SB. No use without prior written permission.

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