“We Want to Make Great Work”: Digital Design Grad Talks PRO-Keds, Nostalgia

We can’t help it. We find Mark Miller irresistible.

The Digital Design alum, one half of the Brooklyn-based Dark Igloo, has been making a name for himself since graduating in 2005. Dark Igloo’s work, which includes a recent eye-catching lookbook for PRO-Keds, is always creative, always remarkable.

Dark Igloo (Mark Miller on right) in the CulturePOP profile of Dave Franzese

On top of all that, as this comic-style CulturePOP photo profile of partner Dave Franzese shows, the Dark Igloo duo has built a kind of creative Eden in Brooklyn – a studio that, in Mark’s words, is “pretty bonkers”, and a philosophy that means they can be choosy about projects and make their own rules.

Mark’s set to take part – from afar – in the next Digital Design Talks event on March 16. More on that soon. In the meantime, we had the chance to catch up with him and hear a bit about the PRO-Keds project, the power of nostalgia, and the Dark Igloo philosophy.

Hi, Mark! The last time we talked about one of your projects in any real detail, it was MTVMusic.com – another project that was based on nostalgia. So, what gives? Why go back to the nostalgia well?

Mark: We all want to be remembered for our highest highs versus our lowest lows. An esteemed guest is usually introduced with a list of their accomplishments. It’s no different for brands that are seeking to relate their story in the over-saturated, up-to-the-second media landscape.

MTV first aired in 1981 and stayed pretty true till the mid-’90s. Anything after that point has been a remix of the original vibe, an attempt to regain its former waistline.

PRO-Keds were introduced in 1949! They were worn by NBA players such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the ’70s, and later attained cult status as the first real sneaker style among New York City’s hip-hop community. Unfortunately, if you were not alive in the ’80s, you missed all that, and more than likely think the brand is part of Rocca Wear.

PRO-Keds asked us to focus on its incredible history and timeless vibe.

Where did the overall split-screen-across-time concept come from?

Mark: We thought a lot about how we would like to see shoes presented, we took a walk, then we made a video about taking a walk and having a cool day.

Creating a lookbook is tough because you have to find a way of showing people the product without being insulting. We chose to balance the brand’s history with its current offering by showing that both “Old School” and “New School” PRO-Keds sensibilities are still alive in New York City today.

The CulturePOP profile really hammers home the idea that you and Dave aren’t interested in Dark Igloo getting ‘bigger’ – that it’s more about doing new things. From that perspective, what drew you to the Pro-Keds project?

Mark: Dark Igloo has done a lot of work in the mass market shoe space. This PRO-Keds project was our first direct-to-client experience which allowed the execution to avoid being diluted. We want to make great work.

Thanks, Mark! To get an even better idea of what Dark Igloo does, check out the Mind Expanding PDF on their site.

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