Anita Casale

Class of 1994

Director of Design Operations, Converse

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Biography

Anita is a native of Rochester, New York and graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with Honors in Industrial Design in 1994. After graduation she began her career at New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc. in Lawrence, Massachusetts where she worked as a footwear designer for five years gaining a strong understanding of footwear design, design leadership skills and the unique aspects of building and manufacturing footwear in the USA. Following that Anita spent nine years at Adidas in Portland, Oregon where she was Senior Footwear Designer leading the creation of performance athletic shoe products in a variety of categories from Running, Women’s Training and Key Account Exclusives. She pioneered the ground breaking Performance Culture unit, which led to a new business segment for Adidas, now called NEO, a 45 million dollar division and provided design leadership in many capacities for the footwear design team. In 2010 she transitioned back to the east coast as Innovation Design Manager for Converse, a subsidiary of Nike Inc. where she was instrumental in creating advanced innovation design processes, facilitating a new prototype making culture, and promoting an inspirational and collaborative relationship between innovation and commercial design teams. Most recently she has taken on the role of Director of Design Operations for a 40 person footwear design staff. In her new role she is responsible for building and nurturing a world class creative studio culture and drives design strategy in collaboration with Executive Design Leadership team.

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AP Sports Trainer

The project was based on the need to createhigh performance athletic cross training footwear designed specifically for female college athletes to train in. It began by meeting with the UCLA Women’s Softball team on their campus. Using a Design Thinking approach, interviews were conducted regarding each of their footwear needs, what they liked and disliked and what they wished for. In that discovery phase, it was found that they were using running shoes because that was what the athletic coach bought for them. This was proving to be a poor choice of footwear, even causing injuries in some cases because the shoes would actually tear apart and the girls would roll their ankles.

 

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AP Sports Trainer

Findings were then combinedwith research that was conducted in Arizona at the Athletes Performance Institute with in depth cross training movement and exercise analysis. Casale’s challenge was to combine all the research, consumer insights, knowledge of performance footwear requirements, construction and manufacturing techniques while providing an Adidas brand design aesthetic. The result produced a stunningly beautiful silhouette that not only performs to the highest degree the athletes demanded, but is versatile and stylish enough for young athletic woman.