martes, marzo 13, 2007

James Arizumi

I met James like two years ago, in Whistler, Canada. We spent some days snowboarding, in meetings, and getting to know some new cards he had on his sleeve at that time, in the form of shoes. Since then, I can say hes a cool guy with a lot of focus and a funny dude who enjoys life and does what he loves. I sent him some questions, trying not to be "shoe related", and giving a little more background to these lines. Thanks James, and ey, Holidays'07...you know whats up!

WW:Full name
James Keoni Arizumi
aka “zOOm”

WW:Your daily job
Footwear Designer for the Evil Empire

WW:Your night job
Purveyor of good food and friends.

WW:Besides working for a well known company, what do you do in your free time
I have been on the cooking tip for a bit trying to make some proper eats. I have just finally realized the art of preparing a good meal it is design expressed in its finest form. The ingredients, the colors, textures, flavors, and the presentation. I also ride waves, roll on urethane, slide on snow, and bombing the streets on my fixed gear. Traveling is also an obsession of mine, new people, new cultures, new cuisine, and architecture. Its a brave new world and its getting smaller every day.

WW:When designing a whole new shoe, like the Abbington, or the Prod 2... Besides thinking about the skater, do you see yourself wearing the shoe?
As a designer the consumer comes first. Visually the shoe needs to pass the biggest critic of all, myself. Next the shoe has to perform well, be durable as all hell, and be insanely comfortable. I wear test each shoe because I am close to the sample size so in a sense, yes I do wear every shoe I design. As you can already guess I have seen enough shoes to last a lifetime so on the real, I just run basic black shoes with white outsoles day in and day out. Simple style like the Nike SB Zoom Air Harbor which is coming to shop near you. No more craze, I'm over it.

WW:Besides shoes, what have you designed having an architecture background?
As far as Architecture goes, I have worked with Spain’s favorite son Pritzker Prize Winning Architect, Rafael Moneo on The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles. It was one of my first big projects and an insane experience. I worked every weekend for over a year straight without breaks. I did drawings for practically every part of the multimillion dollar project and sat in meetings with some of Los Angeles’s biggest State Officials and the Archdioceses of Southern California.

WW:I think there's a thin line between architecture and product design, but a bigger line between graphic design and product design. A lot of architects are doing product design or even industrial design. What do you think about this?
I believe it is a natural progression for Architects to transition or dabble in Industrial Design. It is the same course that I went on my career path and looking back it all makes sense. Architecture is the mother of all design in my opinion. It spans centuries of civilizations and is mankind's mark on the earth. Architecture can leave a lasting impression that gives insight to how people lived at the time, their cultural differences, social interaction, as well as technologies and material of the time. Thus Architects have to go through rigorous training that involves not only Physics, spatial planning, structural design, but also theory, history of art, and philosophy as well. Architecture can be considered a macro level of design, the management of large projects on lots of oversight, and Industrial Design is more of a micro level, details within the building such as door handles, light fixtures, and furniture. So in perspective it is a natural progression. The exception is you rarely see a Graphic Designer or Industrial Designer being able to practice Architecture on a proficient level, it seems to be a one way street.

WW:The skate shoe game. Where is it going?
I believe, without giving away any trade secrets, it is going to continue to be a balanced portfolio of footwear ranging from basic cupsoles, Vulks, and high end tech shoes. On the tech side of things it is going to evolve from the 90’s version of what tech shoes were, lots of rubber, puffy shoes, and gadgets, to a more wearable, highly functional, lightweight, and breathable product with streamlined tech sensibilities. For example the Zoom Tre.

WW:Brands copying other brands. Whos innovative nowadays from ur point of view? Is it hard being innovative?
The cannibalization of brands will happen in any niche market I think its up to the brand to set itself apart with its Skate Team as well as a few signature shoes which define the brand. Innovative does not always necessarily mean tech but more so product that defines the brand through original designs. What's innovative for Nike SB might not work with a brand such as I-Path who has their own distinct style and consumer.

WW:Surf and Hawaii. Drop a line about it.
Love it, live it, be about it. Its where I'm from and represents all that is good in me.
“Ua mau ke ea o ka'aina i ka pono”

WW:Pros and cons of living in Oregon.
Oregon, Portland to be specific is an entity all of its own. It took me a few years to figure it out but now I am all about it. It rains a ton out here but after a while you tend to not even notice it. The good thing is you work all the time because there is no reason to be outdoors when it is dark and rainy out. Also there are a ton of great indoor skateparks to push around in so its all gravity. The trick it to have winter projects, such as working on your bike, painting, playing music, to get you through the winter. When the Summer comes, its on like Donkey Kong. Everyone is out an about, there are tons of festivals, bicycle rallies, outdoor sports are in full effect, BBQ’s, house parties and the works. The real bummer is the water is freezing cold all year round and the Surf is only good in the winter when mother nature is blistery cold and at her fiercest.

WW:One of the funniest stories in your life as a shoe designer
I have never owned a pair of Nikes till I started working here. Now how's that for keeping it real.

WW:Your fave piece of clothing, toy and shoe.
Right now, it has to be a heather grey zip up hoodie by Dunderdon. It has ill details and simple as hell. Pants, would have to be my Levi’s 501 straight leg raw denim that I cant ever wash. My favorite toy is a vintage Optimus Prime die cast metal Transformer with trailer that I used to own and will one day own again. As for my favorite piece of footwear, my Locals Slippahs and if you don’t know you better ask somebody!

WW:Last thoughts…joder
Big Ups to the Nike SB Fam local and worldwide!! Respect the past and embrace the future.