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Product Designers

Footwear Creator Piotrek Pérez is Taking the Lead in Sports-Apparel Design

January 25, 2019
BY Julia Stone

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COURTESY OF PIOTREK PÉREZ

Piotrek Pérez works hard and plays hard. When he’s not working as a product designer at Joma-Sport, he’s multitasking as a freelance designer and marketer, or teaching classes as an associate professor of industrial design engineering and product development at Nebrija University in Madrid. As one of the leading footwear and athletic-wear companies in Spain, Joma-Sport was selected as the exclusive sponsor and supplier for the Spanish Olympic Committee, from the Baku European Games of 2015 to the Tokyo Olympic Games of 2020.

Piotrek’s passion for design coexists with his love for fitness, marketing, and his Yorkshire, Laya. “Design has the power to spark not only business transformation, but social transformation, improving the way we all work and live, with design as a link between innovation and creativity,” he writes on his website. We recently spoke with him to see what it’s like to be a young professional in the sportswear design world.

When did you start designing?

I began designing from a very young age. At that time, I didn’t know that those drawings I made on a sheet of paper with colored pencils would be the beginning of something great in my life and the start of my future profession.

COURTESY OF PIOTREK PÉREZ
Piotrek’s sketch work for Joma footwear designs.

When did you get interested in marketing?

I got interested in marketing from the first time I ordered at McDonald’s. They gave me a hamburger much smaller than the picture shown on the menu. That was when I realized that there must be something more behind this simple menu board—that marketing is a science.

For a while, you worked as a freelance consultant for start-ups and leading brands. How did you build out your freelance consulting business?

I worked on my own until I formed a multidisciplinary team of seven marketing and design professionals. I won two international advertising awards at the Publifestival, in 2006, for the best strategy in marketing and communication. I was able to achieve this thanks to my team at VAIBA Creatius.

Since 2017, I’ve developed strategic design experiences for many companies. I’ve worked with clients in a highly collaborative way, emphasizing experimentation, curiosity, and new ideas. I worked as an independent consultant for a startup incubator at the Google Campus in Madrid.

One of my recent clients was Trakked.io, based in Lyss, Switzerland. Trakked is a tool that supports efficient facility operations and security. Before Trakked, facilities were monitored by multiple Excel pages, which had to be kept up to date. Trakked.io focuses everything into a single tool. They trusted me from the beginning to create their personal brand and product launch strategy.

You recently began working at JOMA-SPORT. What motivated you to join them?

My passion for design and sports has led me to find my place as a product designer at JOMA-SPORT, the leading Spanish sportswear and footwear company. I was motivated to learn and keep growing at a multinational company.

I’m surrounded by a great team of professionals. I bring my previous design experience to the table and gain insights from new work methodologies that are only seen in multinational companies like JOMA. But I’m still open to new projects to continue growing as a designer, marketing specialist, and person.

COURTESY OF PIOTREK PÉREZ
Piotrek’s Małgośka line of textile swimwear, a joint project with the Polytechnic University of Valencia.

As an avid volleyball player, do you draw any connection between sports and design?

Volleyball is a team sport. Marketing and design are also team-oriented. That’s why I find many similarities between the two. I think of design and marketing as a process where several specialists from different areas of the company come together with the goal of planning new products and introducing them to the market.

Also, marketing and design greatly influence the world of sports, especially when it comes to the design of athletic shoes, clothing, bags, swimwear, and gym clothes. Behind every design is the desire to innovate and improve the user experience. Good design makes products simpler, safer, and more comfortable.

What is a typical workday like for you?

Every day starts with a good breakfast of coffee, orange juice, and toast with extra virgin olive oil from Jaén, Spain—my hometown. In the morning, I listen to music and energize myself to face the day. After the work day, I work out at the gym. I finish the day by taking long walks with my dog and reading a good book.

How do you begin a new design? What does your design process look like?

The design usually begins in my head the night before. I always expand my ideas on paper before using any digital tool. Then I research the market, investigate the end users, and start to sketch conceptual designs. The first step is to ask the right questions. It’s difficult to think of a design strategy that doesn’t include the connection between design and marketing.

In this field, we respond to the evolving needs of our clients. Design is a key ingredient and so are flexible and dynamic marketing strategies that adapt to changing conditions. If correctly managed, design is a tool that helps me improve the competitiveness of my product designs. If we follow a design process based on analysis, planning, and execution, we will be able to decrease the gap of time between the design conception and the launch of the new product. And we’ll also reduce the need for costly product changes.

COURTESY OF PIOTREK PÉREZ
Piotrek’s practice also includes UX/CX design and branding, seen here in the Do Mar Xiringuito dining campaign.

What sacrifices have you made for your career?

I’ve made many sacrifices, including personal ones. But the satisfactions have surpassed and paid for all the sacrifices. I consider my profession as a hobby. I’m paid to have fun.

Was there ever a moment when you wanted to quit pursuing industrial design and/or marketing?

Eight years ago, I was about ready to completely give up on design. My life was at a turning point. But the next day, I remembered this quote from Steve Jobs: “Design is the soul of everything created by man.” I reconsidered and decided to continue my profession with even more vigor because I would like to be remembered for the products I have designed. Soichiro Honda said, “The greatness of a man is not measured by his physical size, but by his actions, by the impact it has on human history.”

What other designers inspire you?

Matali Crasset, Patricia Urquiola, Hella Jongerius, Mariscal, Pepe Gimeno, Miguel Milá, Philippe Starck, Karim Rashid, Ross Lovegrove, Ron Arad, Raymond Loewy, Alvar Aalto, Chanel, Calvin Klein, Peter Behrens, and Le Corbusier.

What does the future look like? What’s next for you for the rest of 2019?

I see myself enjoying my career as a designer and publicist along with getting my PhD in marketing. I would like to keep working as a teacher and as a chief designer at a multinational company. I don’t like to predict the future, but I can say that the best is yet to come.

Check out more Sixtysix stories about product design, graphic design, and fashion.

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