Behind The Design: With !Michael K

Hear about Goorin and Farm designs straight from the source!

Behind The Design: With !Michael K

Q: What has your Goorin journey looked like?

A: It’s been a ride. I technically started as a holiday part-time in Austin right after moving there and some life plans fell through (classic!). But I had actually played some music in the shops in Chicago long before, and even did some over hire help there with inventories. That’s what got my head in the door to begin with. After getting the seasonal gig in ATX, I worked at the shop all the way up to the store manager there. And over that sort of time you really get to know what hat people really want in their hats; what’s exciting, what’s attractive, and what works. Once you get a feel for that, it becomes really easy to start creating hats FOR those people.

Q: As a designer now, what’s a ‘typical’ day at the office?

A: Obviously, if you know Goorin, you know there’s no ‘typical’ anything, much less whole days. But that said, I’ll ride my bike in to the office and post up in the area out back we call “The Barn” with a couple other people from various departments (like Michael Fowler from the old GB Workshop!). And I get into whatever is on MY plate for the day or week, right now I’m working on developing a sequel Farm capsule to the Skinny Dippin’ collection we dropped a few weeks back that will also reintroduce Life of Leisure AND IT’S WATERPROOF! And while I’m working on that, everyone in the Barn sort of shares what they’re working on and plans for their piece of it. Keith, for example, our Brand Team leader will take a look at designs in the earlier stages and begin planning for how to photograph and execute them for the website, which Michael Fowler is now the Prime Minister of or whatever, I dunno. That’s not my department.

Q: Walk us through your design process: 

A: Aspirational fedoras are the easiest to walk through. I really just think “What do I think is dope, and what do hat people think is dope?” And I sort of just try to nail down something that true hat people will be excited about.

For Farm capsules, these take a few different forms, but we have a few this fall and winter I can sorta walk through. One type is pretty easy, we have a plaid collection coming, so it’s just about finding some nice wool, plaid materials and then picking which animal personalities or colors jive with those materials. But then there’s something like the Insert Coin Capsule coming later on this year where I sort of latch on to a vibe or an idea, in this case it was old school video arcades. Then you sort of reverse engineer that aesthetic. Lots of blacks, but a lot of neon pops and tones plenty of color but nothing that SCREAMS, really. Plus that was easy because you can let the games themselves do the work when choosing the animals to create. You got your Whack a Mole, your crane game, Centipede, etc. And then let those things inspire you. And for that stuff Keith even designed an Animal Farm “Farmcade” Token that’s gonna be embroidered on the caps too. Long story short is dream big and then design into and make as few concessions as possible.

Friday Drops are the hardest thing in the world, every time I finish one I think we’ll never be able to do another. So far so good, though, somehow. It’s really just a design lab to test the boundaries of what The Farm is capable of as well as make sure our true Farm Fam are getting something they’re thrilled about.Q: Where do you pull inspiration from?

A: Well, a lot of places. I watch a lot of movies which helps. But also just trends and aesthetics. I took my inaugural California trip to Joshua Tree recently (If you don’t go once, CA will kick you out.) and ended up creating a “Desert Skies” capsule out of that experience. The way the sky becomes a wild gradient as the sun sets, (and presumably rises but I dunno, I’m not a morning person). Planet Earth is bizarre place, if you stare at anything long enough, it will become something worthy of inspiration. We could probably do a capsule inspired by concrete. Maybe I will, now, if only to prove a point.

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of being in the design room?

A: This is easy. It’s firing people up. Showing people the designs from initial sketches, to samples, to patches arriving, to the finished product, it’s always exciting to get people excited. When you know you’ve helped create something people are gonna lose their minds over, that’s the only fuel you need to do it again.

Q: What have been some of your favorite designs you’ve seen come to life?

A: Well, the first set of designs that I actually saw come to full fruition was the Fish Bowl capsule. So those are definitely close to my heart. Plus I feel like, as a team, we did a really good job snowballing the hype for those and getting everyone really excited. Another one that I’m really excited about is an upcoming capsule we have called “Carousel” definitely some of the most ambitious designs and executions we’ve had on the Farm and they’re actually looking extremely dope. Alex, the Digital Styling Manager, really hit the nail on the head when he compared it to the scene in Batman (1989) where the Joker blasts Prince and spray paints all art in the museum. You’ll see.

Q: How often does your original idea take a 180 into something else completely?

A: Honestly, not too often. It’s either that an idea will get some legs and come through all the way OR it’s abandoned completely. With Goorin we really try to be fully intentional with all the steps along the way, so if an idea changes too much it usually just means it wasn’t the right idea to begin with and we’ll either let it go or table it until it’s the right time.

Q: What capsule/drop/limited release collection are you most excited for that’s in the works?

A: Oh man, pretty much all of them. But wait until you see this glow-in-the-dark capsule we have coming this winter.

Q: Any hints on a fun new animal for us to be on the lookout for before the end of the year?

A: You know it’s all pretty hush-hush, but let’s just say that dinosaurs may not have been as extinct as we thought…


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