The Spirit of DIY with Taka Hayashi & Vans Vault

Sitting down with the creative mastermind, artist and designer, END. and Taka Hayashi discuss all things Vans Vault, the upcoming "Design It Yourself" pack and the true freedom of design.

Vans Vault x Taka Hayashi DIY pack
The first of three footwear releases from the creative force, Taka Hayashi, the DIY pack encapsulates the artist and designer's irreverent approach to collaborative design and the heritage of Vans footwear.

Growing up as a skateboarder on the West Coast, following a moving Stateside from Yokohoma, Japan, Taka Hayashi found his way into the world of footwear design through his passion for art. First scouted by Berto Leichty back in 2005, Hayashi contributed to the second season of Vans Syndicate, utilising high quality materials and masterfully designed prints to cultivate a distinctive aesthetic sensibility that would soon become synonymous with a Taka Hayashi Vans sneaker. Over the past fifteen years, Hayashi has worked with Vans Vault, demonstrating his playful point of view, charm and instantly recognisable design codes with his eponymous sneaker line. Championing the true freedom of design, Hayashi pays homage to the creativity of designers and artists the world over with the DIY Pack.

An embodiment of Vans Vault's dedication to working with artists, designers and creatives throughout the ages, the Vans Vault x Taka Hayashi DIY pack urges you to take up the mantle and truly design it yourself. Featuring a fully velcro'd upper and a plethora of patches for you to mix and match, the the Hi LX and the Low LX models can easily be transformed with only your creativity standing in the way.

Sitting down with Taka Hayashi, END. discuss all things Vans Vault, the upcoming "Design It Yourself" pack and the true freedom of design.

Vans Vault x Taka Hayashi DIY pack
Vans Vault x Taka Hayashi DIY pack
You’ve been working with Vans for nearly 15 years now – what initially drew you to working for the company?

I’ve been a huge fan of Vans since I was a little kid. Their involvement in skate, surf, music, and art definitely drew me in. I love that their shoes are a perfect balance for skateboarding and as your everyday shoe. They’re timeless. Also, at the time I began designing for Vans, they had many cool things happening like the Vault and Syndicate program.

How has working for Vans Vault changed during your tenure?

A lot has evolved and changed during my tenure at Vans Vault. A group of us started the Originals program which is a heritage classic line within Vault. We were trying to balance out and bring in what is important to Vault, such as heritage, collaborations, and new product design offerings.

What was it like to go from designing for Vans to having a fully-fledged footwear line of your own?

It was very exciting to having my own footwear line. It gave me a chance to experiment with new ideas. Vans has been very generous in letting me have creative design freedom.

Vans Vault x Taka Hayashi DIY pack
How has your history as a skateboarder informed your design practice?

It has definitely helped me to go against the grain. Not following too many rules or trends and going with your instinct.

Presenting the DIY – Design It Yourself – sneaker pack, your eponymous footwear line champions customer creativity. What does DIY mean to you?

Keep pushing design with no boundaries. There’s no right or wrong.

What served as the central inspiration for the interchangeable elements of the pack?

I had two inspiration images on my concept board. The first inspiration came from my first visit to the Vans store as a young kid in the 80’s. The endless customisations you were able to make at the store with various prints, textiles, & suede swatches in their binder books. The other inspiration came from a vintage toy called “Mr. Potato Head”. It’s an interactive toy with many plastic colourful body parts that you apply to a plastic potato to make whatever you imagine. Those two inspirations were the birth of the Design It Yourself concept.

Vans Vault x Taka Hayashi DIY pack
Why did you specifically choose the Hi VLT LX and the Low VLT LX models?

The Lo VLT silhouette is essentially a one piece Authentic, and I applied the same concept to the Hi VLT. I chose those two models for this concept for the blank canvas aspect. I wanted to fill as many classic styles into these shoes as possible. Aesthetically, the combination of the two stitch lines of the Sk8-Hi and the Half Cab worked really well. Same goes for the Lo VLT, the overlapping of the Old Skool stitch line and Slip On.

The DIY pack engages with concepts of design in an educational and practical way – what ideas about design were you trying to convey?

There are no boundaries within design. You can choose to follow the traditional rules & stay within the stitch lines or completely step out of the line and build something new.

The ability to completely transform these classic sneaker silhouettes in a variety of ways must have presented its difficulties. What challenges did you face when designing this sneaker pack?

This project was definitely a mind bender. So much trial and error. We usually work on an 18 months calendar per season. Just to make the panels fit on each stitch line and outsole was challenging. Also, to make the colour and prints work on the multi panels took a while to figure out. Challenging without a doubt, but I’m very happy with the end result.

Vans Vault x Taka Hayashi DIY pack