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How I got my job: senior creative director of global store design at Nike

Andy Thaemert went from designing sets and costumes for a small theatre to running the retail design team at Nike in Portland, Oregon. He told Dezeen Jobs how he got there and what he looks for when he hires new staff.

Andy Thaemert,
Senior creative director of global store design,
Nike, Portland Oregon

Dezeen Jobs: Senior creative director of global store design is a big job title! Explain to our readers your role involves.

Andy Thaemert: I'm based out of Nike WHQ in Beaverton, Oregon. My role as senior creative director is part of a store design studio that's made up of about 50+ people who all get after creating the future for Nike at retail. My specific role within the studio is to create and guide the design vision for the architecture of Nike stores. Basically, anything that's a fixed component of the store – the façade, materiality, furniture, lighting, etc. is what I work on.

Dezeen Jobs: Where did you study?

Andy Thaemert: Rhode Island School of Design

Dezeen Jobs: What was your first job?

Andy Thaemert: I did the set and costume design for a very small theatre production in Minneapolis after graduating from RISD. I loved the fast, holistic approach that was needed there to create impact. Not too dissimilar to retail.

Dezeen Jobs: What led to you getting to this position? Have you worn many hats at Nike?

Andy Thaemert: Nike reached out to me about eight years' ago and it's been interesting ride ever since. My focus for the brand has always been retail. Since my first day here, I've been able to collaborate with so many creatives inside of the company on a variety of projects. It's never a dull day at Nike.  

Dezeen Jobs: What's one thing you didn't know about Nike before working there?

Andy Thaemert: The one thing that surprised me the most about Nike is how fast and messy the process to a result can be. The pace can be intense at times and the journey it takes to realise the vision is often not linear.

Dezeen Jobs: What skills are most useful for working on the design team at Nike?

Andy Thaemert: Being able to tell and communicate a design story is extremely valuable in seeing your vision to the end.

Dezeen Jobs: How would you describe the workplace culture at Nike?

Andy Thaemert: It's kind of like a raging river. The more people you link arms with, the better the ride is going to be.

Dezeen Jobs: What's the most important thing you look for in prospective candidates?

Andy Thaemert: Energy, attention to detail and the ability to work outside of the computer.

Dezeen Jobs: What are some of the projects you're most proud of?

Andy Thaemert: The projects I'm most proud of are the ones that push forward new thinking on experiences and challenge the typical aspects of design. What I'm most proud of at the moment is Nike's new House of Innovation in New York and the House of Innovation in Shanghai. There are a lot of elements to those two stores that pushed the boundaries on design. I could go on for hours about the façade design and other aspects of the built space. I'm extremely happy with how we developed the concept and drove all the details to the end result.

Dezeen Jobs: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Andy Thaemert: That's a hard one… Travel provides a lot of excitement and inspiration for me. When I'm in a different culture, things like materials, textures and details all stand out more. Inevitably that excitement and focus finds its way back into my work. Another source of inspiration is the innovation around me at Nike. I could get inspired by a specific individual or team and how they are charging forward on new ideas, or it could be from the result in a Nike product and how that ends up influencing aspects of my architectural work.

Dezeen Jobs: What have been some of your favourite collaborations over the years?

Andy Thaemert: I worked with Tom Sachs on his 2012 collaboration with Nike. I ended up designing the retail build for his Space Program: Mars show at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. Getting connected to Tom and his process was serious fun.

Dezeen Jobs: What's the best part about working at Nike?

Andy Thaemert: The people are amazing and the relentless pursuit of innovation is real. I love the fact that I get to design for a brand that's truly pushing to the future of sport and innovation.

Dezeen Jobs: What advice would you give your younger self starting off in your career?

Andy Thaemert: Go towards what you don't know, versus working around it… and learn Japanese.

View Nike's company profile on Dezeen Jobs

Locations: Worldwide
Number of Employees: 500+