An Italian leader of Nike’s Footwear Concept Creation CenterA profile of Claudio Innocente who has been playing key roles with the Beaverton sports footwear giant since 2009
On the facade of the extraordinary Palace of Italian Civilization in Rome, a famous phrase is written:
“A people of poets, artists, heroes, saints, thinkers, scientists, navigators and transmigrants”. This phrase well represents the characteristics of the Italian people and equally well describes the story of Claudio Innocente in the footwear sector.
After graduating from an important Italian footwear school in the Venice district, Claudio began his career at SportStyle Design studio in the Montebelluna district by designing for important European and American brands. It was during this time that Claudio worked for the first time with NIKE, Inc. In 1986, NIKE’s current CEO Mark Parker decided to develop one of the company’s most iconic products, the Air Jordan II, in the district of Montebelluna with Claudio and the Sportstyle team. The partnership resulted in the creation of the first NIKE Basketball shoe with Air Bag technology and a direct injected sole into the upper. This is where Claudio began his career as a designer of sport performance footwear, a product where creativity cannot be an end in itself but must marry with functional and technical performance.
In the following years, Claudio decided to follow his entrepreneurial instincts and founded a successful Studio in Montebelluna, Mosquito Design. Mosquito Design quickly became a well established design consultancy in the sports footwear district based on important footwear design and development collaborations with brands such as Tecnica Group, Northwave, SIDI, Rollerblade, Fila, Kappa, Lumberjack and many others. Claudio again partnered with NIKE when NIKE’s founder Phil Knight decided to launch a revolutionary project called Local for Local (L4L). L4L’s focus was the design and engineering of customized footwear in the USA. This was the perfect challenge for Claudio Innocente, Thinker and Scientist – a project that required unmatched ability to combine creativity, technical design, engineering and innovative production methods into one comprehensive solution. The NIKE Lunarfly 1.5 Runing shoe and the NIKE Basketball Hyperfuse shoe are two examples of L4L shoes that were successfully “Made in the USA” and sold through the NIKEiD portal.
Then in 2012, Claudio’s next adventure with NIKE began – this time with a move to NIKE’s World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon USA as NIKE’s Concept Creation Director. Based on his previous successes with NIKE, Claudio was hired full time to develop a footwear innovation prototyping center for the US sports footwear giant. Most recently, Claudio has been involved in many different activities at NIKE – he manages NIKE’s world-class Concept Creation Center, he works with elite athletes designing custom competition footwear for their most important sporting events, and he creates highly specialized footwear training courses for in-house footwear designers and engineers. We first met Claudio Innocente when he contracted with ARSUTORIA school – together with Paolo Marenghi, the technical director of ARSUTORIA school, Claudio created courses that have had great success within NIKE for the last seven years. In Paolo Marenghi’s words
I’ve worked with Claudio for many years now. Claudio always amazes me with his ability to find unexplored ways of bringing shoe design to the next level. Based on Claudio’s contributions, I feel I can say that some of NIKE’s soul speaks Italian.