Common Projects

In a world full of over-indulgence and excess, it’s uncommon to find a brand that illustrates minimalist and utilitarian forms. With clean palettes and common inspirations, Common Projects has created simple solutions to modern day gaudiness. These unassuming sneakers are a definite departure from what is offered within the mainstream and are without a doubt a much-needed addition to footwear fashion.

“We’re sort of the cobbler down the street that only has one thing and we don’t push it on anyone.”

Format: Please state who you are and your role at Common Projects.
Peter Poopat: My name is Peter, sometimes Prathan. I am 50% of Common Projects. Flavio Girolami is the other 50%. We are both the designers and everything else.

Format: How did you come up with the brand name?
Peter Poopat: The name came about more as an idea to have a platform for creative outlet between artists and designers. The name came out of our common interests, hence the name, Common Projects.

Format: What was the inspiration behind Common Projects?
Peter Poopat: We found that among ourselves and our peers, there were common ideas and philosophies and we wanted a place to gather these ideas that could eventually culminate into something. Whether it embodied itself in a commercial venture or just to create art, we had no idea. Eventually, the opportunity presented itself to create something. As an experiment, we explored the idea, which became our first sneaker, the Achilles. It was our first ‘project’.

Format: Please describe the development of Common Projects since its inception.
Peter Poopat: We launched the brand in 2004, although we would never have called it a brand back then. We started with two styles, the Achilles low and mid. We made these initially for ourselves to wear for the summer. We were looking for something else besides chucks and stans and couldn’t find it. We made them. We showed a couple people and started getting orders. As they say, ‘the rest is history.’

Format: You are an industrial and graphic designer and also the former art director for Visionaire and V. Please tell us how your experience has played into the success of Common Projects?
Peter Poopat: I’ve been lucky to have had the chance to work with some of the best brands and people in the business. I think it certainly doesn’t hurt to have been touched by these people. After a while, I think you develop a palette and are able to weed out the things that are just of the moment. We’ve seen so many things come and go and we wanted to do something that would have a life, something with integrity. Everything prior to CP was sort of training for this.

Format: There is a beauty in simplicity. Please comment on this statement relative to Common Projects.
Peter Poopat: We certainly identify with this statement. We look at things that may often seem mundane but find them beautiful. Things you might pass on the street and just overlook; sometimes you just have to stop and see them. Simplicity is often overlooked and you may not be able to fully appreciate it until you’ve tried to execute it. It’s not easy to do something simple. How do you make the decision to remove that beautiful red swoosh when it looks so good!

Format: How would you describe your designs?
Peter Poopat: I think [CP is] more essential than minimal. We try to think of what is absolutely necessary.

Format: You are quoted as saying “they’re anonymous and utilitarian in design.” In a world obsessed with fame, fortune and individuality, how does Common Projects thrive?
Peter Poopat: When you go to shopping mall, you’re surrounded by so many names, colors, images, words – I think we represent a departure from that. We’re sort of the cobbler down the street that only has one thing and we don’t push it on anyone; I think people are drawn to that. but we do it in the finest Italian leather. They could be drawn to that too.

Format: You’ve been named the Jil Sander of the sneaker world. In an industry with so many brands, who would you consider competition?
Peter Poopat: We love Raf and Jil Sander. Raf actually owns our shoes. That’s a great compliment. We sit next to Jil Sander, Lanvin, Dior, Pierre Hardy and Margiela in the stores and I don’t know if we really consider them as competition. We can’t compete with those names. They’re all amazing for all different reasons. The people who buy Common Projects are into it because it doesn’t really have a name.

Format: Who is the Common Projects purchasing demographic?
Peter Poopat: It’s hard to say. A storeowner told me once that he had everyone from the whole Supreme skater crew to an eighty-year-old man calling for them. It really spans the gamut.

Format: Please tell us about your SS09 collection.
Peter Poopat: For Spring ‘09, we broke the mold a bit. We have some even simpler models if that’s possible and some that are a bit more complex. We introduced some bold colors and are very excited about it. It was a chance to have some fun and we went for it. It’s sort of Common Projects 2.0. We try to stay away from any major themes and just do what makes sense as a next step.

Format: What does the future hold for Common Projects?
Peter Poopat: We’ve been thinking about doing something with wheels.

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Jules C

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