Nike, the nature of motionExploring and recounting the Nike Free world: to create the shoes of the future, Nike designers must be both conceptual and practical, a mission that requires a lot of prototyping and “playing.”

Jun 15, 2016
Posted in: , Sport

Exploring and recounting the Nike Free world

To create the shoes of the future, Nike designers must be both conceptual and practical, a mission that requires a lot of prototyping and “playing.” Some examples can be seen in these pages. 3D EXPERIMENTS The background images represent a creative process that combines 3D printing with paper. The concept is to imagine a material that can become a shoe and then return to being a material and preparing itself to become a different product. Imagine shoes created to give the best performances in a specific event and situation and to subsequently be “reprogrammed” and customised for the next race and a different situation. THE SENSATION ROOM The theme of this project was inspired by the first Nike Free shoe: running on grass. These prototypes imagine a cushioning that is comfortable for the city and everyday life. The big idea, however, is the increasingly faster iteration and prototyping, made possible by the 3D printing of different research concepts. These designs are like sketches on paper.

During the most important week in the world of furniture and design, Nike presented in Milan the works of 10 international designers called upon to explore the concept of “The Nature of Motion”. The performance of the human body is form, function and movement. Unique and fascinating elements that Nike has manged to move from the sports world to the design world. Hence, Flyknit, which today is used as a synthetic material to make sports shoes, becomes the main material for design objects.

Experiments in Natural Motion The evolution of Nike is based on the ability to experiment. Innovation invariably requires an ability to take risks and an unconventional creativity. It is the ability to find magic in experimentation, to look at the world in a different way. This is achieved by believing in “what if….” and rediscovering the wonder. After all, real innovation comes from manifesting what was once unimaginable. Starting from the Flyknit uppers, a collection of experimentations. The new Nike Free RN Flyknit models are mainly composed of two essential parts: the ultra-lightweight and now classic Flyknit upper with a sock-like fit and the new auxetic midsole, which allows more natural movement. Following the anatomy of the foot, even the sole, at the time of impact and push, it imitates the behaviour by expanding and contracting in four directions. A shape that changes therefore not only in the linear movement, by following the direction of the race, but by expanding itself in a multidirectional manner.

The shoe of the future according to John Hoke

john-hokeJohn Hoke, VP Global Design Nike, tells us about the values that inspire the US brand in its path towards innovation and the future prospects of Nike footwear.

“Our goal is to give people goose bumps, to elicit a visceral reaction to something beautiful, because the best design must captivate at first sight. However, it goes without saying that we also want the form to be functional and that’s why we strive to achieve the right balance, knowing that no object exists on its own, but must harmonise with its surroundings, including the emotions of an athlete.”

So, what is the right balance?

“The right balance lies in the combination between the needs of the athlete, what we observe and the technical data taken from the various performances. Because although there is a lot of technical data available, the numbers should not be the only thing to influence the design. You have to mix technical precision with the emotion, transcending mere utilitarian value. This is one of the reasons why Nike, to inspire us, refers constantly to Nature, a teacher of innovation, for no one better than she can solve the practical problems while maintaining grace and beauty. What’s more, Nature is also a teacher of adaptability. Just think of how a form of life must adapt itself to an environment. This theme is very important to us. In fact, the future of our products will lie in their ability to adapt to the individual needs of the athletes and to the specific situations in which they find themselves.”

Therefore, it’s not just a matter of performance?

“Sport is more than just a physical act. The innumerable interactions with athletes from around the world and our personal experience have led to a universal truth: an athletic performance is not only a physical activity, but also an intellectual, emotional and spiritual one. Today we know for certain what we have always thought: the way an athlete appears is part of and affects his performance. The equipment an athlete wears is like a uniform that can stifle him or be a source of pride and energy.

What can we expect from the future Nike products?

“They will have a tactile intelligence. The body does not only receive information from sight and hearing, but also by sensations transmitted by the skin. It is still to be explored, perhaps uncomfortable at this time, but in the future it will allow us not only to better serve athletes, but to change the panorama of athletics in the long term.”

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Established in 1921 in Vierkirchen, a few kilometres from Munich, Hanwag is the historic German pioneer company in the field of mountaineering and trekking shoes.