meet the creative minds behind the nikelab x acronym collaboration

Acronym founder Errolson Hugh introduces us to the people who make his vision come to life. Created with NikeLab.

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Feb 8 2017, 1:05pm

Errolson Hugh isn't a fashion designer — at least not in the traditional sense. The man behind cult Berlin-based label Acronym is something more akin to an artist, engineer, and inventor in the way he approaches design. Hugh considers the way we move through the world, the way that technology and the environment affect our day-to-day. To celebrate the launch of the NIKELAB AF1 DOWNTOWN X ACRONYM® — Acronym's latest collaboration with NikeLab, a visionary reworking of the classic Air Force 1 that mixes utilitarian features and innovative textiles — Olivia Rose captured Errolson's crew, the people who inspire and energize him. His tribe is integral to what he does, and Errolson attracts kindred creative talent like a magnet, giving those around him as much as he gets from them. It's a symbiosis that allows for real innovation.

Errolson Hugh

"Really the coolest thing about it is that everyone on the team is creative in their own right. When we all work on something together, new and unpredictable things happen."

William Gibson, 68

Where do you live?
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

What do you do?
Novelist, and namesake of Buzz Rickson's William Gibson collection.

How did you meet Errolson?
We met in 2008 in the run-up to Arc'teryx putting its Veilance label together. Someone there told me about this guy in Berlin, that he was the secret genius of hyper-functional but satisfyingly attitudinal urban technical menswear. I instantly bought a used Acronym hardshell on eBay from someone in Italy, and saw that its designer was all that had been described. Then, to my delight, he actually turned up here, so we got to meet.

What do you admire about him?
So many things! His unfailing sense of humor, absolutely everything about him as a designer, including that rare ability he has to know when something has been designed enough, already. Also, the highly evolved discipline he has, with which he seems so effortlessly to avoid dissing others. He must be among the absolutely least bitchy individuals in the fashion industry. If he indeed is in the fashion industry, because I've often felt that he's in something else, something we don't yet have a name for. Wearable architecture?

Where and when did you initially find the tribe of people you connect with creatively?
Initially among science fiction fans in the early 1960s, then among people who cared as intensely about the music I cared intensely about, in the later 1960s. But as important as subcultural identity can be, at that age and later, there's a lot to be said for the ability to incorporate the good stuff from a given tribe and move on.

Why is it important to find your tribe?
Otherwise the risk of dying of loneliness seems very genuine, I recall! But really, I think today we're talking about an aspect of the dreamtime of industrial and post-industrial civilization: more like whole distributed nations by now, than tribes.

Why is it more important than ever to come together?
Because we are, this year, confronted with a resurgence of actual fascism. Which is not a political modality, but rather a politicized form of criminality. Actual real-deal fascism is abroad, globally. So do come together.

Finish the sentence: Family is...
Both what you make of it and where you find it.

Ümit Esbulan, 30

Where do you live?
I live in Kreuzberg, Berlin.

What do you do?
Designer at Acronym.

How did you meet Errolson?
I called him up one day and asked if I could work for him.

What do you admire about him?
His design approach — I've learned so much ever since I started working here. It's the total opposite of what I learned in school. It forced me to rewrite my whole design process.

Where and when did you find the tribe of people you connect with creatively?
I found most of them in Antwerp during my studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. 

Why is it important to find your tribe?
It helped me survive that school for sure, but it also helped me to have fun while working on projects, which is what I enjoyed the most. A tribe lets you see how everybody complements one another, but also how everyone sees things differently. 

Why is it more important than ever to come together?
I think with everything going on in our world right now, a moment to take a few group pictures to celebrate a little thing like a shoe can't hurt.

Finish this sentence: Family is...
Turkish.

Ian Wang, 22

Where do you live?
Berlin

What do you do?
For Acronym I do graphic stuff, a little design assistance however I can, sonic services when required, and I run our online store.

How did you meet Errolson?
I wrote to Errolson on Twitter when I was 16 asking to be an intern. Needless to say, my services were not required at the time, nor did I know where they were based out of. A year after graduating high school I let him know I was coming to Berlin, we met, and for some reason he let me stick around.

What do you admire about him?
His uncompromising voraciousness, his discipline, thoughtfulness, and dedication to his craft. His understanding of what is truly required to create an evolving body of great work. His ability to understand and synthesize across cultural, disciplinary, and temporal boundaries. His willingness to teach, mentor and present a young man, with no skills on paper or experience, a chance to work. Above all, I admire the fact that Errolson is just a down-to-earth, good person.

Where and when did you find the tribe of people you connected with creatively?
At Acronym in Berlin. I arrived early 2014.

Why is it important to find your tribe?
The tribe acts as a social framework in which you can exist and work as your true self. A tribe establishes common fundamental values, and enables the individual to emerge, interact, and ultimately grow within that network. Working and collaborating in the presence of others whom you enjoy and trust in the pursuit of a common meta-goal is a vital precondition to progress the entirety of human culture, of which we are all a part.

Why is it more important than ever to come together?
It has always been important to come together. We are currently at a critical existential tipping point. Right now we have the technology to radically change nearly every major pillar of civilization for the better. It is incumbent on our species to take the furthest step back from the noise and ask: what does it really mean to be alive?

Johanna Schneider

Where do you live?
Portland, Oregon.

What do you do?
Senior Design Director, Nike Women's Sportswear.

How did you meet Errolson?
Errolson and I met at the ISPO trade show in Munich, in 2001. Two strangers ran into each other, escaping the halls full of noise, ski and snowboard gear. After a fun ride with friends in his Subaru Impreza WRX through the snowy streets of Munich, we visited his stunning Acronymstudio, located at Schloss Nymphenburg Park. It was an impactful and revealing experience that affected my personal vision and career path immensely.

What do you admire about him?
His irresistible vision of creating pure, intelligent, unbeatable, and relentless products, whatever it takes. His honesty, detestation of fuzz, generosity, and trust towards people he respects and loves. His ability to reconcile laser sharp and smart direction, while being generously open-minded and curious about other people's perspectives. Errolson's professional and social intelligence provides his product design an incommensurable combination of unique perfection and addictive magic.

Where and when did you find the tribe of people you connect with creatively?
The Acronym tribe is a symbiosis of similar minded and committed creative people, who have found each other in random situations and phases of life. Like in a good love story.

Why is it important to find your tribe?
Finding your tribe of trust starts within yourself. Once you have built confidence and trust with yourself you will connect with people who either share the same vision or passion, in whatever medium they express themselves. It stands for empowerment, trust, and authenticity. 

Why is it more important than ever to come together?
During times like these the need for connectivity, familiarity, personal interaction, and trust are getting more and more obvious. Do not underestimate the power of your immediate network. Approach every situation with respect, awareness, and be willing to take on responsibility in life.

Finish the sentence: family is...
An environment where everything is possible. You share moments of unexpected full potential, joy and pride, and support each other in moments of failure and confusion.

Melody Yoko Reilly, 28

Where do you live?
Tokyo, Berlin, Hawaii.

What do you do?
I follow my heart.

How did you meet Errolson?
We met and danced together one night in Tokyo at a party our mutual friend Mai was DJing.

What do you admire about him?
Where to even begin? I have been a fan of Errolson ever since we first met. He is hands-down one of the most talented, creative, fun, weird, passionate, driven, real, selfless — not to mention sexy af — people I know. With his knowledge of kinetic design and his crazy concept of "now," he is one of the leading artists of neo-futurism. But most of all, I admire the part he might not always put on display, his big heart.

Where and when did you find the tribe of people you connect with creatively?
Most of the time it is quite organic so I am still finding and connecting with them all over the world.

Why is it important to find your tribe?
I feel it is important to find your tribe to be able to understand yourself and the world around you more deeply. The people closest to you are a reflection of the qualities you already have in yourself. They show you the light and dark that exists within you. Through their love my tribe has inspired me, pushed me and helped me to grow into the person I am truly meant to be. My tribe is my soul family, and I could not be more grateful to have them in my life.

Why is it more important than ever to come together?
Coming together is essential for the survival of our species and our planet. Coming together is creating human connection, therefore expanding our love for ourselves and for everything in the universe.

Finish the sentence: family is...
Love.

Ken-Tonio Yamamoto

Credits


Photography Olivia Rose
Styling Hanna Kelifa
Hair Marcia Lee at Caren
Make-up Athena Paginton at Bryant Artists
Photography assistance Rowan Hall
Styling assistance Pippa Atkinson
Hair assistance James Parr
Make-up assistance Phoebe Walters
Models Errolson Hugh. William Gibson. Melody Yoko. Johanna Schneider. Ken-Tonio
Yamamoto. Ümit Esbula. Ian Wang.
All models wear clothing Nike.