Sokolowski to deliver keynote on product design for athletic bodies at Fashion of the Body Symposium

Product Design Program Professor Susan L. Sokolowski will be the keynote speaker April 29 at the “2016 Symposium: Fashion And the Body” presented by the University of Minnesota College of Design in St. Paul.

Sokolowski, who is helping establish the new UO Portland sports product design masters program set to launch September 2017, will give a talk titled “Fashioning the Athletic Body.”

Professor Susan L. Sokolowski“By definition, the athletic body is one that is strong or successful at athletics,” Sokolowski writes in her abstract for the talk. “It is also diverse. It has no boundaries of gender, ethnicity, creed, age, economy, or ability.”

She notes that athletic bodies “react to the interfaces of the environment. …  They try to balance or achieve homeostasis, by managing temperature, energy, blood constitution, and sleep. They bruise, blister, and scrape against other athletic bodies and product. They can sense. They can smell the fear of a competition, see the shot before it is scored, and hear the roar of the crowd.”

This diversity of the athletic body “makes it an endless subject matter to study and provides an indefinite amount of opportunities for designers to fashion it,” Sokolowski says. Her keynote speech will detail specific examples of the diverse athletic body and how designers fashion it, including product fit, athletic performance, and aesthetic. 

A faculty member in the UO Product Design Program, Sokolowski, brings a strong professional and academic background to the proposed Sports Product Design program, including several leadership roles at Nike in product innovation and as an innovation designer in footwear, apparel, and equipment over the last seventeen years. Her research focus in the Sports Product Design program will be on the issues surrounding design of products for special populations, including women, children, and disabled athletes.

Sokolowski has a PhD in design and kinesiology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and a master’s in functional design and human factors engineering from Cornell University. She also has a BFA in apparel design and production management from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Pending program approval, Sokolowski will assume the directorship of the Sports Product Design program in fall 2017.

April 27, 2016