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Project Files: ASICS – A Japanese Tradition

Meticulous attention to design and detail epitomize brand.

ASICS Workstations – Pinwheel Layout
ASICS, Boston. Photo © Robert Benson Photography.

As a multinational corporation that produces footwear, apparel, and equipment for a wide range of sports, true performance brand ASICS traces its roots to Japan, in 1949, when founder Kihachiro Onitsuka began manufacturing basketball shoes out of his home. In 1977, he named the company ASICS, an acronym for the Latin phrase anima sana in corpore sano, which translates as A sound mind in a sound body, and sums up the brand’s motivating principle.

Strategically located in downtown Boston, the new 18,000-square-foot second-floor headquarters, dubbed the Creation Studio, spans five contiguous buildings combined into a single floorplate and houses multiple departments. The award-winning space features 8 product workrooms (each customized for the team it serves) that simultaneously function as  showrooms and magnets for attracting top creative talent.

ASICS, Boston. Photo © Robert Benson Photography.
ASICS, Boston. Photo © Robert Benson Photography.

Designed to epitomize the brand’s craftsmanship through meticulous attention to design and detail, natural materials and neutral colors convey elegance and serenity in support of the overarching theme—a Zen rock garden. Walls wrapped in undulating white louvers (each louver milled separately, numbered, and painstakingly installed) are an IA innovation that reference the organic striations of raked sand.

Undulating Louvers in the ASICS Creation Studio
ASICS, Boston. Photo © Robert Benson Photography.

At the elevator lobby, a custom light fixture at the ceiling mimics the signature tiger stripes synonymous with ASICS, and the brand’s spiral “a” logo is formed by a wall of live greenery at the café. Even the restrooms convey the brand, each with a 25-foot-wide infinity-mirror shoebox that houses a seemingly endless array of ASICS footwear.

ASICS, Boston. Photo © Robert Benson Photography.
ASICS, Boston. Photo © Robert Benson Photography.

At the two main showrooms near the entrance, every surface is designed for display, and an operable partition makes the two rooms one for maximum flexibility. Clever built-ins maximize the use of space; custom sliding wall panels conceal generous storage cavities with drawers below.

Workstations arranged in pinwheel configurations, rather than linear rows, compel an organic pathway. Meandering throughout the space, a thin gold floor insert references Kintsugi, the 400-year-old Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer and powdered gold, making it stronger and acknowledging the break as part of the life of the object.

ASICS Shoes at the Boston Creation Studio
ASICS, Boston. Photo © Robert Benson Photography.

Large circular pendant light fixtures, hung at different heights, suggest radiating ripples of water and emit a tranquil glow. At the whisky bar, soft round pendant lights evoke river rocks.

“The design not only pays homage to ASICS’ founding principle—a sound mind in a sound body—but enables creativity and collaboration for our teams to drive the brand forward,” says Gene McCarthy, President and CEO, ASICS American Corporation.

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IA worked to help creativity thrive in the Boston Headquarters of footwear giant ASICS.

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