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What Nike Air Max Creative Director Dylan Raasch Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Illustration: Joe McKendry; Photo: Courtesy of Dylan Raasch

Note: A version of this story originally appeared on the Strategist UK. As Dylan Raasch is based out of Portland, Oregon — and because all of his favorite things are also available in the United States — we’re syndicating the post here.

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the stain-remover pen and the tongue cleaner. We asked Dylan Raasch, musician and creative director at Nike’s Air Max, about the wood-scented cologne, calming incense, and pair of industry-standard monitoring headphones that 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 in that zone, but once I light the incense, it’s instant. Being in footwear, I have to go to Korea a lot — I think I’ve been to Korea over 40 times. One weekend, I got to go down to the market, and I was walking down the streets when I smelled this scent, 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 is happening.” Then I walk over and this guy hands it to me and says “Eat this.” And I’m like “Eat it?” He replies “That’s how pure this is.” And he starts eating it, and we both eat it together and I’m like, Wow, this actually tastes good, too. It was a little bitter, but it almost tasted like ground up flowers, very earthy. It was interesting, I’ve never done that before. Since that day, this is the incense that puts me in that 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’m definitely trying to stay analogue. With the Muji notebook, I like the simplicity of it, I can slip it into my back pocket, and it feels very functional.

Being a designer, you’re always looking for the magical pen, the perfect one. I was searching for years, and years, and finally found this one about six years ago. It’s the one I absolutely love. It’s the perfect line weight, it doesn’t smear, and it feels good. I also tuck that in my pocket, together with the notebook, the two are an awesome match.

There’s something about the shea butter in this one that’s extremely relaxing to me. It’s primarily the hand balm, but I always use the Shea Butter stuff from L’Occitane. Working with your hands all day, this keeps them moisturized obviously, but I think it’s worked better than any other product that I’ve had. Also, it’s something that my mom always used, and it always reminds me of her, which I think is nice. [During the pandemic] I did use a Kiehl’s hand spray quite a lot, and it dried my hands out, so I think that’s why I used the 25 percent balm more than usual.

I have the tortoiseshell colorway. I love tortoiseshell because I think it works well with my complexion. But, it’s the fact that these glasses have clip-ons. I used to carry around two pairs of glasses — prescription, and sunglasses, growing up in Southern California, you need both. But having the clip-ons have made it so much easier, just to have that in your pocket instead of carrying around two pairs of glasses. So I’ve switched over to these. I feel like they have a more retro-modern look to them, which I love. I think I’ve messed my eyesight up from looking at computers and drawing all day, so I’ve had glasses for years.

So, I actually have two. It may sound stupid, but I have a personal one and a work one. For the work one, it’s being used for every Zoom meeting, all the designing work, communications, so I use that there. Then, as soon as I switch into my personal life, I do a lot of music (I’m actually working on a new album), and that’s where I go to LogicPro at night, and get right back into it. So it’s kind of like my music studio as well. The capabilities, the plug-ins, the fact that the LogicPro interface for music is fairly inexpensive, it’s been an amazing whole set-up for me.

Headphones are one of those things that I usually have on all day. I think a lot of people use AirPods nowadays, but these ones are specifically for monitoring music. For listening to vocals, or listening to different tracks, the clarity is much better and gives you much more space than you would find in a typical pair of AirPods. I talked to my engineer and he recommended these a while back. I was like, “Well, they don’t seem that expensive for what you’d think the quality would be,” and I tried them out, and they were amazing. So they’re just a really nice pair of headphones if you’re looking for that higher quality. They work perfectly for me. I usually have them on at night for anywhere from four to six hours (even eight hours sometimes), and they’re super comfy around the ears.

For my lips, I don’t prefer any fragrance. I just prefer not to have any notes there, but I like my lips to feel protected. I’m outdoors a lot of the day, I take lots of walks in the forest because I live near Forest Park in Portland. In the winter here it’s obviously cold, and a little bit dry, and this lip balm is the one that works the best out of all that I’ve used, so it’s become my go-to. I love Kiehl’s sunscreen too, but this balm, it has that 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 going back to it.

I went to the store a while back and tried absolutely everything that they had, and this one caught my nose. Living in Portland, there’s something about the woods here that has this fragrance and vibe to it, and when I smelled this, it captured that. I love wood — my whole house is all wood. It’s a smell that grounds me, it gets me into that calm vibe. I use it for all special occasions, I’m not actually a huge cologne guy daily, but it’s one of those things that if I need to be in the zone, I’ll put it on and it will lift my spirits. The smell actually evolves over the day as well, it initially has more of a perfume, then it almost gets more woodsy as the day goes on. So it kind of shifts as well.

The more neutralized colorway is something that I’ve been feeling a lot more lately, so these have become my go-to pair of Air Max. They’re super comfy. A few years ago, I used to be super heavy into the indigo-navy type colors, now the beiger color palettes, I feel like I’ve needed that lightness in my life, so I’ve made that shift a little bit. One of the goals on this shoe was to hit a tier-two sustainability rating, where it’s made of 25 percent recycled content. The way we did that was not only through using fully recycled materials but when we would make a panel on the shoes — as you can see on the tongue, there’s a cutout, which we then used on the heel — we actually used scrap materials on the shoe, so instead of throwing them out, we were utilizing them.

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What Nike Creative Director Dylan Raasch Can’t Live Without