Pensole Bows New Teaching Facility

Pensole is making big moves.

The footwear design course, which has been hosted by Parsons The New School of Design and the University of Oregon, now has its own facility.

“Being in a dedicated footwear space in Portland is something the students and our sponsors really appreciate,” said Pensole founder D’Wayne Edwards. 

The Pensole Design Academy, located in the Old Town Chinatown section of Portland, Ore., is a 4,600-sq.-ft. space that will host all Pensole programs, which are footwear design courses accredited through colleges such as Parsons New School of Design in New York and The Art Center College of Design in California. The facility features room for lectures, a design studio and a library.

The space was officially unveiled earlier this month at an event that showcased designs by Art Center students. Participants presented work to program sponsors Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Vans, Olukai and Disney Consumer Products.

“It was pretty amazing to have all those brands under one roof,” Edwards said. “It shows that they’re really invested in the future of design.”

Edwards, a former designer for Nike Inc., said Pensole’s goal is to connect aspiring footwear designers to brands. Since the program launched two years ago, 31 students have been hired at brands that include Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, New Balance and Stride Rite.

“We’re trying to create a more direct pipeline between education and these corporations,” Edwards said. “It’s a new way for footwear companies to engage in education and it’s an opportunity for students to get hands-on experience.”

With the new location, students will travel to Portland for the multi-week program. Classes include color theory, material selection, brand storytelling and portfolio development.

In the coming weeks, Pensole will start a course with Adidas, the school’s first partnership with a major brand (in the past all collaborations were with schools). Adidas will sponsor 15 students to go through a special performance footwear-based curriculum. The three-week intensive will feature guest instructors from the brand and end with a presentation to brand executives.

A design course in conjunction with FN Platform is also in the works for later this summer.

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