Alumnus Cubby Golden: Passion for Sports Leads to Shoe Design Success

Cubby Golden holding his new design, a red baseball cleatCubby Golden in his office at New Balance in Boston with the new 3000v3 baseball cleat, which he designed

Industrial Design alum Cubby Golden (2007) has an enviable resume: He currently designs high-end athletic shoes for New Balance in their Boston headquarters, and before that he earned accolades at Nike.

In his relatively short career he’s been praised as the creative powerhouse behind the Nike LunarGlide+2 and the New Balance 4040v3.

He’s also had his designs featured on the farewell episode of Oprah, where the host received a pair of Golden's sneakers as a gift from Nike cofounder Phil Knight.

Despite these early triumphs, Golden looks at his achievements as only the beginning of what’s possible.

Although he didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a designer -- and confesses he didn’t even know what industrial design was until late in high school -- Golden always had a passion for art and building. An early love of Legos pointed him initially to a career in architecture.

But his lifelong devotion to sports and a growing obsession with collecting sneakers eventually convinced him to pursue an education in design and ultimately a professional life in the athletic shoe business.

A No-Limits Career

Today Golden refuses to put limits on himself or his work. He sees his career as eventually evolving into designing for the movies or even working as a futurist:

“Having that ability to design what you envision the future to look like -- where there’s no right or wrong, you can follow what’s trending, what might happen . . . to design what you envision in, say, 3030 would be a dream project.”

To feed his vision, Golden soaks in inspiration from his travels, the dynamic cities he has lived in, movies, and life at large, but he cites his family as his most important influence because they instilled in him the determination to stay “hungry and humble” in the face of success.

“Where I am today is the work of not just myself but of my family and mentors. My parents telling me to believe in myself and that hard work pays off. This is what drives me to this very day, and I always try to teach others the same.”

Golden grew up in the Bay Area, and CCA’s proximity to his family and home was part of what first attracted him to the college. He says he ultimately chose CCA because of instructors he met who were passionate about design and about helping young people fuel their dreams.

Community Engagement Is Key

CCA’s emphasis on community engagement continues to resonate in Golden’s life and career:  “As a designer I feel always getting back to my community is what pushes me as well as keeps me grounded.”  

To this end, Golden has an occasional gig as an instructor with PENSOLE, a footwear design institute in Portland, Oregon, that offers free tuition to talented young artists.

He also volunteers at Sneakers for Success, a Boston nonprofit that aims to propel underrepresented youth toward academic success.

Golden thrives on working with young people as a way to repay the guidance he received from his own mentors through the years. “I was always told the ones before me paved a path, and by them helping me out, it was only right to pass that along to the next generation.”

He counsels his mentees to pursue a broad education in art and design, and he repeats the lessons he learned about working hard and being fearless.

 “If you’re looking at design schools, take every single class you can about illustration, architecture, graphic design. Even if it’s not your major at least interact with those kinds of people because you’ll learn different things about design that you might not learn in your other classes.  

"Be open to being universal and be open to taking risks. Stay hungry and humble.” 

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