adidas chosen as design team of the year
Three stripes, three divisions – one design strategy
The adidas design department, under the guidance of Michael Michalsky, has been chosen as design team of the year 2005. With this title, the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen annually honours a design team for their outstanding design achievements in the international “red dot award: product design” competition. Michalsky himself will receive the award on behalf of the whole design team on 4 July 2005 at the “red dot award: product design” ceremony gala in the Aalto Theatre of Essen, Germany.
“Michael Michalsky and his design team have done an excellent job in recent years,” states Professor Peter Zec, the competition’s founder, explaining the company’s selection as design team of the year. According to Zec, “adidas today pursues an ongoing design strategy that is consistently followed throughout all areas of the company. Directed by Michalsky, adidas has managed a fine balancing act between the company’s reorientation towards its roots and the demands of a modern and young target group, between sports and lifestyle, between fashion and high-tech.”
Design for the times
The world of sport has changed. Today sport is omnipresent; millions of people all around the globe watch every Formula One race, every football game, every track and field championship. Sportspersons have become media stars, populating talk shows and the tabloid press. Sport is no longer just about athletes and events; it is also about who the sportspersons are, what they stand for – and what they wear. Today, sport is also lifestyle; sports apparel sets trends.
Due not least to this development, design is growing in significance for the sports goods industry: design has become the crucial factor for success when it comes to linking customers to the brand or developing new target groups. Thus, competition within the industry turns into a competition between designs and brands. adidas is an outstanding example of how a company can regain a leading position in a tough international market through the implementation of a consistent design philosophy and the creation of a professional design department. With the title “red dot: design team of the year,” the Design Zentrum now honours the course that adidas has taken in recent years and which has been steered largely by the performance of Michael Michalsky and his design team.
With the design of its products, adidas has responded to changes in consumer demands, yet at the same time it has continued to supply sports apparel with the same familiar quality. To achieve this, a three-division structure was created. Each division addresses a particular target group and has its own logo: Sport Heritage (the streetstyle line), Sport Performance (classic sports apparel), and Sport Style in collaboration with the Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto (sporting fashion). Thus, despite some initial disorientation following the deaths of Adi Dassler towards the end of the 1980s and, only a couple of years later, of his son, adidas today, thanks to a consistent brand and design strategy, again ranks among the leaders in the highly competitive sports apparel industry.
The adidas design team
When Michael Michalsky joined adidas as Chief Designer for sports apparel in 1995, the apparel department did not yet have a design team. It consisted of several freelance designers who created the collection. Each designer brought in his own concepts and ideas, tied together by the three stripes as the only common element to identify the resulting products as adidas. Michalsky remembers: “When I started at adidas, the design department was considered as something of an accessory. Many marketing people at the time were of the opinion that they were only in need of designers because they themselves could not draw particularly well. This has changed entirely and today we have a lot of influence within the company.”
Today, approximately 200 designers from ten nations are working under the guidance of “Global Creative Director” Michael Michalsky – in 1992, it was just 21 designers worldwide. There are now three teams; one at the company’s headquarters in Herzogenaurach, another one in Portland for the American market, and a third one in Tokyo for Japan and Asia. The work of the designers, however, is not limited merely to designing products. Design is a leading constituent element in many product ranges: two-thirds of all new product concepts are created in the design department – in close collaboration with the adidas Innovation Team, the corporation’s development department. Thus, adidas launches an average of more than 500 new products each year.
Awards ceremony, 4 July 2005
On 4 July 2005, Michael Michalsky will travel to Essen to receive on behalf of the whole design team the “Radius” challenge trophy in recognition of the “red dot: design team of the year” award. The “Radius” will be handed over by the previous year’s winner, the Pininfarina design team. The Aalto-Theater opera house in Essen is the opulent setting for the award ceremony gala, with more than 1,200 guests expected from the fields of design, business, media, politics and culture.