Our second “Sneakerhead in Focus” feature captures the musings of designer, sneakerhead and collector Joseph Lombardo on design, how he got into collecting sneakers and why Pantone 1787C is his favorite color. We also get his views on where sneaker design is heading with the current trends all the while ogling at his insane collection.
What up! My name is Joe Lombardo. I’m 28 years old and currently living outside NYC in North Jersey. I’m a watch designer and an adjunct professor. I play hockey, take pictures, make videos and sketch for fun.
How did your journey into the world of design begin? What made you gravitate towards watch design in particular?
Getting into design was a kind of natural flow for me. I was always into art. All throughout high school I took private art classes and just spent a lot of time drawing. The thing with being an “artist” is that to get decent money from it is hard. I originally wanted to be an architect or graphic designer and I spent my first couple semesters taking the pre-requisites to transition to either of those. In the end, architecture was a little too dull for me and graphic design was just a very saturated job market.
Fortunately my sophomore figure drawing professor asked if I knew what industrial design was. She noticed all my Apple stuff (I am an Apple snob) and explained how Jony Ive was their industrial designer and him and his team were responsible for the design of Apple products. I’ll never forget that conversation. It was just amazing how there are people behind the products we buy and though people kind of understand it, most take it for granted. I know I did before that. At the end of the year, I transferred to university and studied industrial design. The rest is history as they say.
The watch thing was another thing that just flowed into my life. A classmate and good friend of mine had picked up an internship at Movado. They were looking for someone to intern in product development (which isn’t exactly design, but a key role in getting products made) and since I needed an internship to graduate, I took it. I didn’t last very long in PD and a couple weeks later I transitioned into interning in design. I was not a watch person in the beginning, but after being around it and creating products, I was hooked. It’s a great mix of industrial design and graphic design. I love it. And luckily they hired me out of school. I’ve been with them for 5 years now.
How did you get into collecting sneakers?
I have always been into sneakers in some form. I have not cared about having cool sneakers. But the collecting thing started to happen when I was a senior in high school. I was in Philly with my dad, visiting my pop-pop (Grandfather) with him. I remember saying I wanted to grab some new shoes while we were there. He took me to City Sports on Walnut street. I grabbed the olive pair from the adventure park AM1’s. Fell in love and over the next few years, with the limited funds I had, went and bought AM1’s and 90’s.
I am very specific with what I like. I enjoy variety, but when there is something I like and am very used to, I like to stick with it. When I went to college, I turned into a typical broke college kid. I stepped away from the little collection I had. After graduating in 2011 and landing a job, I got into buying tons of vans and grabbing the random AM here or there. A little later, my brother got a job at champs (Champs Sports) and seeing him come home with sneakers got me hooked back in. I remember around the same time going to Ubiq and buying one pair, leaving and turning right around to and buy the other pair I had eyed up. That’s where and how it began.
How often does it happen that you see a pair that really makes you want to design one of your own? Which shoe would you pick as your blank canvas if given the chance?
Pretty often and I think about it a lot. But its just how I think as a designer – how would I make the product better? I have tons of ideas with some fully sorted out in terms of story telling. For fun I sketch them out. It’s fun. I did an IKEA Diadora once for the Diadora Talk Facebook group *laughs*. Right now, the GLV would be my pick to CMF (color/material/finishing). My favorite model out right now.
Your collection has a lot of diversity and includes several collabs. Which Sneaker boutique and shoe brand hits it home for you?
Literally hitting home is Ubiq. I try and support them in what they do. They put out some solid stuff. But in terms of models, since Nike doesn’t really push like other runner companies, Asics is my go-to currently.
Your favorite color is Pantone 1787. What’s special to you about that color? If you could have any one sneaker in that color, which one would it be?
Pantone 1787C is infrared. The AM90 Infrared is one of my favorite sneakers. And if I could have any shoe in that color, I’m not sure I would. I think that color only belongs on the 90 as an accent color. It’s a classic. Too much infrared could be dangerous.
As a designer yourself, where do you think sneaker design is heading?
Aside from the boost take over, I think we’ve seen some hints at what 3D printing has to offer. It really is the future and not just shoes. Its been critical in design in terms of prototyping, but with commercially viable 3D printing coming closer to reality, it will make a nice little wave in the sneaker world. What NB and Adidas have done are great examples of that. Can’t wait!
What are your Top 5 Sneakers from your collection?
Ronnie Fieg x Asics Gel Lyte V “Volcano”
Adidas Ultra Boost Core Black
Nike Air Max 90 Infrared Hyperfuse
Highs and Lows X Asics Gel Lyte III “Mortar”
Ben Drury x Nike Air Max 1 “Hold Tight”
Parra x Patta x Nike Air Max 1 – The greatest sneaker of all time. My favorite color in existence. Sadly, I’ll never have it. But it’s okay. Hopefully I can get Ronnie’s Mossads one day. Always wanted those.
Huge shout out to the #NT (NikeTalk) community and everyone there. Thanks to my brother @christopherlom for getting me into this and all my friends I have met in person or on IG. Too many people to name.
Grab some box labels to keep your boxes organized and leave the guess work out of knowing what’s inside. Get flat 25% off with the code “THATSHOEGUY” (without quotes).
It’s always a new experience talking to someone from the field of design. The way they see things, experience colors and understand trade-offs can add a lot to our perspective of the same things. Joseph’s Instagram page was an open invitation because we saw variety, character, colors and a storyteller to put them all together. Not to mention his interesting journey that unraveled through the course of this feature. A big shoutout to Joe for his time and for offering the sneaker community a flat 25% discount on his BigCartel page.
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