3D Experiments and the Sensation Room at the Nature of Motion.
While exploring the nature of motion, we were inspired by how an athlete's energy moves in cycles: You prepare, you perform, you recover; you prepare, you perform, you recover. We wanted to think about making footwear in the same way, through a closed-loop process in which the material goes from raw state to product and back again.
To realize this, we mashed up the timeless craft of origami with the generative digital tools that are driving design into the future. A unique computer generated pattern is etched into the paper. When all folds are gathered, a shoe emerges directly from the material. These folds give the paper new adaptive properties, but they don't destroy its original character. So when we smooth the paper back out and remove the "information," we're left with the raw material and the potential to create another shoe. This process imagines a future in which shoes are created uniquely for an event or an outfit, specific to the conditions of the day. Afterwards, that material is ready to readapt for the next race, the next game.
Our original prototypes for this were all folded by hand. Eventually, as we got into more and more more complex designs, we started to use 3D printing combined with the paper rolls to build out the installation. In the end, it was the free exploration and open collaboration between teams at Nike that allowed us to do something really imaginative and unique.
Nate Jobe - Design Director
The overall theme of our project draws from the original inspiration for the first Nike Free shoe: running on grass. We took this idea and translated it into cushioning concepts for the city. In New York, Tokyo, London and Paris, you're always on your feet. You're exposed to the elements and walking all day long. But what if you could walk on any surface you wanted while being in a big city? Grass is a lot more forgiving than concrete.
Each of the six designers who worked on this project explored their own interpretation of grass using a 3D printout to create an all-day, everyday comfort concept. In one, the grass is bent over. One features cut grass, while another is like a putting green… Then we used a pressure map of the bottom of the foot to position the grass in high-impact areas.
The big idea here is iteration and prototyping, exploring concepts faster and faster. These designs are like sketches in process, rather than the prototype being made from a sketch. Rapid prototyping is a key element of the design process at Nike and we printed all of these on campus. This method dates back to the forefather of our company, Bill Bowerman, who always created by prototyping.
In Nike Sportswear, we marry this approach with handcrafting techniques. We look to Nike muses or silhouettes from the past and return to the root of the philosophy of how they were made and why they were made. Then we bring them into the modern day, with a modern interpretation.