Nike Creative Director Dylan Raasch’s Favorite Things
Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Artwork: Joe McKendry; Photo: Courtesy of Dylan Raasch
Note: A version of this story originally appeared on Strategist UK. Since Dylan Raasch is based in Portland, Oregon – and because all of his favorite things are also available in the US – we’re syndicating the post here.
If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably wondered what celebrities add to their shopping carts. Not the JAR brooch and the Louis XV chair but the stain remover pen and the tongue puller. We asked Dylan Raasch, Musician and Creative Director at Nike’s Air Max, about the wood-scented cologne, soothing incense and industry-standard pair of monitoring headphones he can’t live without.
I do a lot of meditation. I do almost two hours a day now, and I think incense is something that helps me get in the mood. After working all day it’s sometimes harder to get into this area, but once I light the incense it’s instantaneous. Being in shoes, I often have to go to Korea – I think I’ve been there more than 40 times. One weekend, I went to the market, and I was walking the streets when I smelled this smell, and it took me somewhere – it almost felt like a past life or something. I was like, “Oh my God, this is amazing! I don’t know what’s going on. Then I walk up and this guy hands it to me and says “Eat this”. And I’m like “Eat it?” He replies “That’s how pure it is.” And he starts eating it, and we both eat it together and I’m like, Wow, that’s really good too. It was a bit bitter, but it almost tasted like ground flowers, very earthy. It was interesting, I had never done that before. Since that day, it’s the incense that puts me in this meditative state.
I like to keep a notebook in my back pocket. I keep it there to write little notes, or draw little thumbnails, if I have an idea. I prefer handwritten over typed stuff, I definitely try to keep it analog. With the Muji notebook, I like its simplicity, I can slip it into my back pocket and it is very functional.
As a designer, you are always looking for the magic pen, the perfect one. I searched for years and years, and finally found this one about six years ago. This is the one I absolutely adore. It’s the perfect line weight, it doesn’t smudge and it feels great. I also put it in my pocket, with the notebook, the two go very well together.
There’s something about the shea butter in this one that’s extremely relaxing for me. It’s mostly the hand balm, but I always use the shea butter product from L’Occitane. Working with your hands all day obviously keeps them hydrated, but I think it worked better than any other product I’ve had. Also, it’s something my mom has always used, and it always reminds me of her, which I think is nice. [During the pandemic] I used Kiehl’s hand spray a lot, and it dried out my hands, so I think that’s why I used the balm 25% more than usual.
I have the tortoiseshell color. I love tortoiseshell because I think it goes well with my skin tone. But, it’s the fact that these glasses have clips. I used to carry two pairs of glasses – prescription and sunglasses, growing up in Southern California you need both. But having the clips made it so much easier just to have it in your pocket instead of carrying around two pairs of glasses. So I switched to these. I feel like they have a more retro-modern look, which I love. I think I lost my sight looking at computers and drawing all day, so I’ve had glasses for years.
So I actually have two. It may sound silly, but I have a personal and a professional one. For work, it’s used for every Zoom meeting, all design work, communications, so I use it there. Then, as soon as I switch to my personal life, I do a lot of music (I’m currently working on a new album), and that’s where I go to LogicPro in the evening, and get back to it right away. So it’s kind of like my music studio too. The capabilities, the plug-ins, the fact that the LogicPro interface for music is pretty inexpensive, it’s an amazing setup for me.
Headphones are one of those things I’m used to having all day. I think a lot of people use AirPods these days, but these are specifically for monitoring music. For listening to vocals or listening to different tracks, the clarity is much better and gives you a lot more headroom than you’d find in a typical pair of AirPods. I spoke to my engineer and he recommended them a while ago. I was like, “Well, they don’t seem that expensive for what you think the quality would be,” and I tried them, and they were amazing. So it’s just a really nice pair of headphones if you’re looking for that premium quality. They work perfectly for me. I usually wear them at night for four to six hours (even eight hours sometimes), and they’re super comfortable around the ears.
For my lips, I don’t prefer any perfume. I just prefer not to have any notes there, but I like that my lips feel protected. I’m outdoors a lot of the day, taking a lot of walks in the forest because I live near Forest Park in Portland. In the winter here, it’s obviously cold and a little dry, and this lip balm works the best of any I’ve used, so it’s become my favorite. I also like Kiehl’s sunscreen, but this balm, it has this long tube, it’s not the typical twist and turn type. It’s really easy to use, fits in your pocket, so I take it on my travels. And for the money, it’s something that lasts a long time, so I keep coming back to it.
I went to the store a while ago and tried absolutely everything they had, and this one caught my nose. Living in Portland, there’s something about the woods here that has that scent and vibe, and when I smelled that, it captured it. I love wood – my whole house is all wood. It’s a smell that roots me, it immerses me in this calm atmosphere. I use it for all the special occasions, I’m not really a big fan of everyday cologne but it’s one of those things that if I need to be in the zone I’ll put it on and it will cheer me up. The smell also evolves during the day, it is first more fragrant, then it becomes almost more woody over the day. So that changes too.
The more neutralized colorway is something I’ve been feeling a lot more about lately, so this has become my go-to pair of Air Max. They are super comfortable. A few years ago I used to be super heavy in indigo-navy type colors, now beige color palettes I feel like I needed that lightness in my life , so I kind of made this change. One of the goals for this shoe was to achieve a Level 2 sustainability rating, where it is made from 25% recycled content. The way we did this was not only using fully recycled materials, but when we did a panel on the shoes – as you can see on the tongue there is a cutout, which we then used on the heel – we actually used scrap materials on the shoe, so instead of throwing them away, we used them.
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