Five questions on VR design with Sean O’Shea from Anta

Continuing with our Five Questions series: Sean O'Shea, Design Director at Anta, discusses how he integrated 3D and Gravity Sketch into his footwear design workflow.

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Five questions on VR design with Sean O’Shea from Anta
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We are returning to our Five Questions series, with a focus on Anta’s US Design Studio. In this blog we will be sharing the insights and feedback from Design Director Sean O’Shea. The next in the series will feature their Creative Director, Geoff Deas.

Over the past three years, we have grown an amazing community of professional designers, artists, and students. We work closely with the community to further develop Gravity Sketch to better fit their workflows. Every day we speak with customers and users to gain insights and a better understanding of how they work, what motivates them and what we can do better as a team.

We wanted to share the answers from Sean and Geoff because we were blown away by their enthusiasm for Gravity Sketch. When we first spoke to them, we were impressed by how quickly they had picked up the tool and integrated it into their process, with very little support from our team. As we have now been working more closely with the Anta team, and they are now utilising our collaboration feature, we are even more excited to see what they do next.


Watch the video below to hear directly from Sean why he uses Gravity Sketch in his workflow.


How did you first discover Gravity Sketch and what drew your attention?

Our Intern Tommy Oleson picked up Gravity Sketch and started playing with some interesting shoe designs. When we saw this and the speed at which he worked we were thoroughly convinced that this tool was the future of footwear design and we knew we had to learn how to use it. We had been researching 3D programs for years yet they all were very difficult to use and focused on mechanical design. Basically, we didn’t feel like any of these programs enhanced our creative process. Gravity Sketch presented an extremely intuitive way to free-form draw in 3D. We had blocked out a whole season to train and get to the level of Tommy but after just one weekend of using the tool, we were fully competent and creating work for live projects. It was that easy to learn.

How do you integrate 3D into your workflow? How was this different from the 2D workflow?

Currently, we use Gravity Sketch in every stage of the process. We create a room filled with inspiration images and the Shoe Last we want to start working from. We start sketching, loosely exploring design concepts in this virtual room, it’s pretty awesome! Putting on the VR headset teleports you into the Gravity Sketch creative world, this is a whole new experience for designers. I never realized how limiting drawing in 2D was until I started using Gravity Sketch. It’s hard to show your thinking in 2D; the challenge is always trying to find ways to tell more of a 3D story through 2D sketches so that everyone understands the direction and the design gets approved. We’re in a continuous competition to deliver the most visually compelling design, something that can be clearly read by non-designers. 3D is the one thing that tells the full story, it’s much closer to reality, but usually, it takes so much work to get it done. With Gravity Sketch, we’ve found so far it destroys any other software programme in the sense that you can use it in so many stages of the workflow: marketing, production, the creative process, internal sales, and internal design reviews. We’re sketching up concepts, rendering, and making videos with music in 36 hours.

Where do you feel Co-Creation could have the biggest impact in the entire design process and what excites you about virtual collaboration?

Anta’s headquarters is in China and our studio is based in LA. We can create a collaboration room to share our designs with our counterparts overseas; also worth mentioning with Covid, most of our team is designing from home so we get a chance to remotely collaborate as if we were in the same studio. This has been a great aid as we can help each other out with challenging design details in real time.

Immersive presentations is an area where this tool really supports our team. When selling ideas to the wider company it is very challenging with the language barrier. All you can really convey is the drawing, what’s on the screen. The ability to interact with your design in Gravity Sketch is very powerful – we create a retail environment at the exact scale in Gravity Sketch with about 6 designs on the wall and bring in the CEO and the President to give them a more rich product presentation.

One of the most exciting use cases we see for this technology is actually something we are already experimenting with: jumping into a collaboration room with an athlete to design his/her shoe. We get in early and put the inspiration up around the environment, invite them in, and then start live sketching ideas in front of them. This lets the athlete be a part of the creative process at the early stages when we are drawing out initial ideas. You can have the athlete in LA, and members from the China team, product developers, and marketing in the same space, this promotes interactive conversations at each stage of the design process – this is the true vision we have for this platform.

Two men on a boat using VR headsets to design using Gravity Sketch
Sean and the team at Anta have been using Gravity Sketch’s Co-Creation feature to collaborate remotely - wherever their home office happens to be!
What was the most surprising / enjoyable part about working in 3D?

It’s fun, I’m drawing again – the freedom and creativity are clearly the most enjoyable parts for me. I could be in there for 8 hours. I get more satisfaction sketching in Gravity Sketch than hand sketching because I know the end result can look so beautiful. The result from Gravity Sketch is shockingly impressive when compared to the other screen based programs I had been using.

As a bonus we can work directly with the factory and there’s fewer questions. It was much quicker when we bring 3D work to them, this clears up the communication and sets the project on a good track for production – it was like “oh that’s what we’re trying to make”.

What words of wisdom would you share with people who are considering diving into VR design for the first time?

I suggest picking something they love to draw and do it at home on their own time. Drawing something you want to draw will motivate you to level up, enhance your skills, and learn the basics without the pressures of project deadlines.

If you’re an experienced designer who is a bit hesitant about this new technology, just get in there and have fun. It is very satisfying because you can actually get to something that is finished. As an experienced designer you almost never get to do that, it just takes too long in any other programme. This is an investment in your future, do it at home if you have to, and you’ll be surprised at how fast it is once you get rolling.


If you want to check out more of the work Sean is doing check out his team’s work on Instagram at @the_loft_la.

To discuss with us how we can help you bring Gravity Sketch into your professional design workflow, get in touch by clicking the button below.

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