Founder of Areté - A progressive product creation studio that sits at the intersection of research, design, engineering, production, and brand. From working as a footwear engineer at Nike to founding Areté in 2019, Myles' entrepreneurial journey is a testament and representation of the diverse cities and cultures he has experienced.

27 Feb 2024

Lodia Sebit

Hi Myles, where are you today? Can you set the scene of your creative space for our readers?

I’m in our studio in Amsterdam. It’s quite minimal, not too much colour. My team always teases me about that! Lots of steel, grey, black and concrete. Quite industrial design studio vibes. And it’s split over 2 floors. The downstairs area is a bit more relaxed and a bit cleaner. People work from here sometimes and friends come to hang out and have lunch.

Then upstairs is the design space where all the samples and reference pieces are. It’s a bit messier - you’ve got the wall with all the work that’s going on so that’s really our creative space. We’re south facing and are blessed that it’s got a floor-to-ceiling glass front with so much natural light coming in. It’s really a beautiful place to be.

You started Areté after working at Nike as a way to build your own happiness. What does happiness look like to you?

That’s a big one isn’t it! There are so many different ways you could answer that question. Within your career, I think happiness is really driven by how far you’re into your passion. Finding something that you’re excited about getting up for every morning gives you real purpose and fulfilment. That obviously makes you happy. Then getting better in that passion and seeing yourself develop and improve really adds to it.

In your personal life, I think stability and being surrounded by loved ones obviously really makes you happy. I think if you have really good friends and really good family, you can get through any challenge in life.


Founder of product design and engineering studio Areté. Born in Birmingham and now based in Amsterdam by way of a three-year stint in Vietnam, O’Meally is a true global citizen who channels his experiences into a rich creative life.

Sticking with the personal life aspect, how do you disconnect from work?

Sport, fully sport. I was raised as an athlete first and foremost and I used to play tennis to a high level. The creative stuff and the design engineering came second. Playing, watching, working out - that’s the way I disconnect massively. I do a lot of football and padel tennis as that’s easy with friends just to mess about.

Then being with family and friends from back home in Birmingham is also nice as well, you know.

Is that sporting background what led to Areté’s sneaker focus?

The sneaker focus comes from my background at Nike combined with where the industry trends were when I started the studio. But we’re setting the theme. We can create almost whatever the client wants. For Raf Simons we did a number of different boots. We were even working on a woman’s heel towards the end and for A-COLD-WALL* we did loafers.

So, you’re not necessarily a sneakerhead then?

I’m not a sneakerhead! In the traditional sense at least. When I was younger there were, of course, particular models that I loved and had. Supreme just brought back a shoe called the Courtposite with their latest Nike collab. It’s a tennis shoe and I had it when I was like 15. I thought I was the sickest kid in these shoes. But I didn’t study footwear design at school. It was more the making of products, the engineering and the industrial design process that I liked, then I fell into footwear because my first job was Nike.

It feels like you can’t talk about creative industries right now without mentioning AI. How do you feel it might impact the future of shoe design?

I’m actually really fascinated by it as part of the concepting phase. When you do your research into your topic, you’ll of course have your own concept ideas that come out of that research. But feeding that into AI and seeing what that spins out will support your own thinking. For me, AI will never replace the top-level creatives because they’ll just learn how to use that to make their own ideas even more developed and advanced. Because if you feed in rubbish, it spits out rubbish. But if you feed in the right stuff, the right concepts, the right references, the right text, what it feeds out can be very interesting. How you then take that to design your piece is then back to the talent of the individual creative.

We’ve used it for a retail project we’re working on right now as part of the early phase of ideation and it was really interesting. It was really fun to use actually.

The tech is useful but the people are still essential! Can you talk us through a human element of shoemaking that really stands out to you?

My eyes were really opened up to the level of skill in factories in the three years I worked for Nike in Vietnam. Of course, you’ve got amazing developers and designers that are sat in Nike’s headquarters. But the unknown, quieter side of things, which is less spoken about, is the amount of skill and experience that exists in the factories. It’s insane. I became big team factory over those three years. Obviously design and the engineering pre-hand over to the factory will have a big impact on the end product, but the biggest impact comes from the quality of the factory you’re working with and the quality of its team.

Any insights into what the future holds for Areté?

Right now, we’re in the process of evolving from footwear studio to product design engineering studio. Footwear will still remain a core part of what we do but we’ll be expanding into new areas such as spatial design, installations, accessory design and apparel. We’re working with the artist Skepta designing his full collection for Puma for example. So we already have a few projects that we’ve started at the beginning of this year which feed into that evolution, so next year you’ll start to see a broader range of projects coming from the studio.

I’ve also started an area in the studio called Future Scope. It’s a small space for us when we have the time to explore ideas that we wouldn’t normally be able to with our client-based projects. It’s more research and innovation focussed. It’s more slow burn and there are no deadlines to hit. So, if we get a topic that we like the sound of or an opportunity to work with a partner on something that we can go deeper into through the lens of innovation, sustainable design or circular engineering, we can put it under Future Scope.

Touching on sustainable design, how easy is it to do within the footwear world?

It’s really difficult. We do the bits that we can – we work with organic cottons and recycled or upcycled materials. But there are still commercial objectives for a lot of our projects and that makes it difficult to go as clean as you could do. We’re working on a project right now within Future Scope that explores this topic with a company in Portland, America, so hopefully we create something that’s ready to share next year.

OLAF stands for Our Life As Friends, which encompasses how we thrive on making connections with countries, cultures and citizens around the globe. How has a life of meeting friends from the different cultures you’ve lived in around the world influenced your life?

I think that it balances you and makes you more of a complete individual because you’ve got so many references to pick from, learn from and absorb. I take bits that I really respect and value and then try to incorporate them into my character. In some ways it helps elevate your thinking just to be exposed to so much. You see the right and wrongs in things. You see how people might approach a certain problem or task in different cultures. I’ve learnt from people of different religions, too. A lot of my friends here in Amsterdam are Muslim and I’ve learnt so much from them about Islam. I just enjoy being a citizen of the world.

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