In 1971, Nike launched the Nike Swoosh, which was designed by graphic design student Carolyn Davidson for $35. To celebrate its 40-year anniversary, Steven Heller takes a look at the “DNA” of the iconic design, and the evolution from a “stripe” to a “swoosh”.
The origin of the mark goes like this: Knight wanted to differentiate BRS’s custom product from the ones they were importing from Onituska in Japan: “…so Knight turned to a graphic design student he met at Portland State University two years earlier.” One day in 1969, the student, Carolyn Davidson, was approached by Knight and offered $2 per hour “to make charts and graphics” for his business. For the next two years Davidson managed the design work on BRS. “Then one day Phil asked me if I wanted to work on a shoe stripe,” Davidson recalled. The only advice she received was to “Make the stripe supportive of the shoe.” Davidson came up with half a dozen options. None of the options “captivated anyone” so it came down to “which was the least awful.”
Well, the rest is history. And the Swoosh emerged from “the stripe” and is one of the most recognized logos in the world.