Storyboard: Jacques Perrault

Rebuke to Tradition

I was born in rural Oregon and I grew up in a town just outside of Bend called Tumalo.

As a kid, my old man was a contractor. He was a working-class guy who spent his whole life building houses. Construction and practical know-how was something that was valued in our household. My dad taught me how to be resilient and independent. He taught me that people are a product of the way they’re brought up.

My mom brought a different kind of energy to my life in those younger years. She was a graphic designer and a natural creative who left the business about halfway through my adolescence. Nevertheless, she was full of ideas about everything and she always found a way to weave creativity itself into the fabric of our family life.

My mother was also the first person who made mention of ArtCenter College of Design.

My mom had friends she hadn’t spoken to in decades who had attended the school. When she found out that I had expressed even the slightest interest in attending, she was getting me on the phone with her old colleagues and imploring me to pay a visit to the campus.

Growing up around my dad, I was always making stuff – tinkering with bicycles, constructing makeshift skateboards, rebuilding wooden boats. However at the time, I had no idea where my burgeoning interest in mechanics would take me. I just knew I wanted to get the hell out of Oregon, and fast.

It was at ArtCenter that I learned that design is most useful when it is empowered by engineering and science. Through my course work, I came to understand the value of creating a product that could allow humans to interact with the world in a heightened, yet tangible way. Because of course, design isn’t just drawing up a picture and talking in circles about the theory of it all. Design is an investigative tool: a method of inquiry into new ways of doing things. It’s a rebuke to tradition; it’s rebellion as an art form. It’s what I’ve always been in search of, even if I wasn’t always able to articulate it at the time.

These days, I work with the “Futures” department of Adidas. It’s essentially an innovation group with a goal is to brainstorm new methods of designing for one of the world’s most enduring footwear bands. Whether it’s different varieties of 3D printing or exploring the varied aspects of brand automation, we do it all.

As a young innovator, it is my job to convince the people I work with that these new, revolutionary, potentially rule-breaking methods of design are worth taking a risk on. As innovators, we are utilizing the most sophisticated means of technology to rail against outmoded ways. In doing this, through our collective efforts, we are forging a new kind of artistic language through. The problems facing our world are too complex for one single person to solve and ultimately too daunting to be remedied by minds that are stubbornly clinging to the ways of the past.

Of course, there will always be a certain degree of resistance to ideas that are considered new or radical – that’s part of why we do what we do, to push against these archaic structures. And yet, if we don’t question the “how” of making our craft richer, more inclusive and more applicable to the world’s issues, what are we really practicing?

From my early days building stuff in my dad’s garage, to my journey through ArtCenter to Adidas, I have continued to re-define and raise my own personal standard. I take time to labor over the little things (the ones that make all the difference). And I try to never forget the unbelievable joy that this process can bring – both to its practitioners, as well as to the larger world.

Jacques Perrault
2014 Product Design
2017 ArtCenter Young Innovator Alumni Award Recipient

...if we don’t question the ‘how’ of making our craft richer, more inclusive and more applicable to the world’s issues, what are we really practicing?

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