Kicks from way back - Nike Air Max Pillar (1998)

In 1998 the Nike Air Max Pillar was released.

The caged upper, and squiggly midsole design caught my eye right away.

From 1995 thru 2000, a majority of my Nikes had a full length airbag (TL).  "Total Air" which is another word for full Air Max cushioning.  The Pillar was one of the many.  Bulky, but ultimately a comfy trooper.  The upper was different, the outside had a 3M reflective cage, while the inside was textured perforated leather.

The caged upper and the appearance of netting to secure the foot is one of the concepts I have gravitated to over the years.  I'm also a sucker for 3M reflective, pull tabs, and tongues with holes.

The shoe has been retro'ed recently, and while I will always have a soft spot in my heart, these Pillars would definitely be an outlet buy nowadays.

Shoutout to the designer (and team) responsible for this shoe!

Sources:

http://www.sneakerhead.com/nike-air-max-pillar-525226003.html

Nike Ease Challenge II

The deadline for submission to the Nike Ease Challenge is December 15th, one month away.

My plan is 2 weeks idea generation, 2 weeks refining ideas, 2 weeks of prototyping.

The challenge for me is to turn off the internal filter during idea generation.

The more ingredients in the idea pot, the better the outcome.  Diversity breeds innovation.

When you start wondering ..."if it's already been invented?"  the battle for creative freedom has been lost.

There are constraints a shoe designer develops when creating a new design:

  • The athlete has full use of both hands for putting the shoe on and off
  • The athlete's foot can move during entry and exit of the shoe
  • The shoe fit can be adjusted during short breaks in the sports activity
  • The athlete can bend over and secure the shoe by tying the laces

The criteria from Nike on the challenge is straightforward:

Successful technologies will be:
  • Optimized for an easy entry, closure and exit of a shoe
  • Engineered for high performance and fit
    • Transferable across a wide range of shoe sizes and styles
  • Viable solutions ready for prototyping

The traditional footwear assumptions have to be changed for the Ease Challenge:

  • The athlete has limited use of one or both hands for putting the shoe on and off
  • The athlete's foot cannot arch/move during entry and exit of the shoe
  • The shoe fit cannot be adjusted during short breaks in the sports activity
  • The athlete cannot bend over and secure the shoe by tying the laces
 Nike Hyper Adapt 1.0

Nike Hyper Adapt 1.0

I think the winning technology will

  • incorporate FlyWire to secure the foot to the sole (high performance)
  • Is as easy to put on and off as a loafer or moccasin
  • Has an enlarged foot opening for Orthotic braces
  • Has a lacing system that can be loosened or tightened with minimal force applied by the wearer
  • an flexible dynamic upper for different shapes and sizes of feet

This process has been beneficial for me.  Building empathy for the athlete, understanding how difficult it must be to put a pair of shoes with limited mobility.  Wanting to be active but not having a shoe that fits your special need in footwear. 

For the next 2 weeks, I'll be refining my preliminary concepts:

  • Flywire Ratchet Concept
  • Flywire Magnet Concept
  • Flywire Strain Relief Bend Concept
  • Hook and Loop Sock Fastener Concept
  • Split Tongue/Magnet Concept
  • Modular fit shell Concept
  • Woven Hatch Lacing Concept
  • Dynamic Buckles Lacing Concept
  • Arch Strap Concept
  • Clam shell Upper Concept
  • Magnetic Flywire Cage Concept
  • Foot Latching Lacing Concept
  • Hook and Loop Upper Clam shell Concept

Sources

https://ninesights.ninesigma.com/web/nike/faqs

Improving Creativity

Everyone possess immense creativity.

Unfortunately, our minds have ways to distract us from using our imagination for innovation.

A notebook is the best way you can improve your creative skills.

Sketches, to-do lists, ideas. 

A notebook organizes your thoughts, helps improve your writing, and increases your capacity for deeper thinking. 

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Writing/sketching ideas in a notebook helps bring the imaginary closer to reality. 

The longer an idea sits in the mind, the longer you get to criticize and dissect "why it won't work".  You see an idea you had years ago make someone else rich. 

Putting ideas on paper, removes internal criticism and makes your ideas real. 

Don't like that line?  Draw over it. Draw around it. Erase it. 

You can iterate an idea in your mind, but putting all your work on paper documents the progression.

Even with 3D modeling prevalent in the footwear industry, many designers ideas start out as a sketch. 

Sketching connects your mind with the object you are drawing.  Writing down ideas moves them from the inside to outside, so you can have more inside space for more ideas.

You are creating change you can see.

Improving the concept with each iteration.

Growing your thoughts and ideas into something real. 

When I visited Nike's campus back in July 2016, everyone had a Moleskine.

Next time anything crosses your mind, write it down.

Sources

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/featured/writing-and-remembering-why-we-remember-what-we-write.html

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ellevate/2014/04/08/why-you-should-be-writing-down-your-goals/#4ba430652f14

http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/Putting-Feelings-Into-Words-Produces-8047

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2012/jun/19/joy-moleskine-notebooks

Smart Shoes

Why can't the toe box on my shoes tell me how fast and how long I've been running?

 

What if you wanted to know the optimal spot on your foot to take a free kick from?

Today, Apple was granted a patent for conductive carbon nanotubes to be used in a fold-able Iphone.

These tubes form flexible strands that hold signals (electricity) and are flexible and resistant to cracking.

Apple has found a way to bend displays and stretch signals over a small folded area.

 

With the release of the Nike HyperAdapt and Air Mag, there is a push to have shoes be more adaptive and responsive to the athlete.

After the fold-able phone, the smart shoe will be next. 

For smart shoes to succeed, the wiring and connections needed to power the shoe have to integrate seamlessly into the shoe.

 

 The guts.

The guts.

Embedding conductive carbon fibers into a flyknit upper would create a feedback loop for the athlete.  Using touch sensors embedded in the sole and upper, an athlete could see stride, speed and impact information displayed on a phone, or directly on the toebox.

A soccer player, who now has a target displayed directly on his boot, to guide him to his strongest spot for a free kick.

The basketball player, who can see how high they jumped for the last rebound.

Nike Ease Challenge

On Oct 28th, Nike announced the Nike Ease Challenge, which invites designers, engineers, makers and innovators to advance and reinvent footwear design for athletes of all abilities. The $50,000 challenge continues Nike’s leadership in driving footwear innovations that help all athletes to live more active and independent lives.

I've worn some of the alternative entry system shoes Nike has put out in the past. 

Love the Air Rift.

I dug into the patent vault to learn more.  For the Nike FlyEase, a lacing system is connected to a strap of velcro along with the use of a zipper.  I didn't realize there was a lacing system connected through the strap to make the shoe tighter.  Here are some of the shoe sketches below.

For my design I'm thinking about:

Magnets to open and close foot entry

how can an athlete tighten a shoe with limited mobility?

how can an athlete take off a tightened shoe with limited mobility?

two separate uppers that weave through each other

how can you open an upper for a larger foot, then create an adaptive level of ankle support?

how can you mechanize the closure of a shoe differently than the AIRMAG (motor in sole)?

How can you use rubber and stretch materials to provide support?

an adaptive lacing system in between the liner and the upper

stretch weave materials

A removable heel counter

 early concepts from the Nike FlyEase Video

early concepts from the Nike FlyEase Video

Here's some of the videos I watched while coming up with ideas/inspirations.

Building Blocks pt. 1

Here's a list of some great books that have changed the way I think and operate:

The Alchemist - The first book I recommend to everyone.  It's the story of life.

The Four Agreements - Don't take anything personally.  This book helped me stop that.

The Shortness of Life - The truest words about how we waste time.

Who Moved My Cheese - Change is inevitable.

How to Win Friends and Influence People - I thought I knew how to win friends, after the 6th person recommended this one, I figured out I was wrong.

Zen Mind Beginner's Mind - How to remove the assumptions and see everything new for the first time.

It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be - It's all about how you handle what situations life gives you.

2 Second Lean - The easiest approach to learning about continuous improvement and fixing what bugs you.  Lean is invention and innovation.

The Goal - After working in factories for a while, the lessons in this book made so much sense.

 

Showing the function

A quote from the redsign of the Aeron Chair got me thinking about engineering and design.  Showing function as a form of design.

The Aeron chair was made for function, yet gained an appeal because of it's design.

Its designers, Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick, built the Aeron according to what the body needs, not what the eye likes. The result was a chair that looked more engineered than designed.

The Pompidou in Paris is much the same.  By showing how the building functions, you create a unique design.

The skeleton itself engulfs the building from its exterior, showing all of the different mechanical and structure systems not only so that they could be understood but also to maximize the interior space without interruptions.

The iconic Nike Air Max One shows you what's on the inside.  The function is exposed to create a design.

This part of the design known as ‘Maximum Volume’ allowed the transfer of air on impact — allowing the Air bag to expand beyond the confines of the midsole. So although they allowed you to see the Visible Air cushioning unit, they had more function as well.

Learning About : 3D Drawing

The outsole of this Reebok was printed using a technology developed for the automotive industry.

As a first step, this technology can create an outsole pattern without a mold.  However, the problems found in traditional footwear manufacturing of adhering the upper to the midsole is still present. 

I could see this printing out a full upper if a last is used to help retain the shoe's shape.  If the machine could incorporate threads, the upper gets even more strength.  The next challenge would be creating a one piece upper/midsole to mechanically attach to the mesh outsole.

Sources

http://www.gameplan-a.com/2016/10/tips-truly-innovate-former-nasa-engineer/

Learning About: Hyperbolic Geometry

Hyperbolic geometry is tough to explain, so I dug into youtube to help explain using crocheting as an example.

Traditional flat knitting machines can produce a 1 piece upper, but the end result still requires seam sewing and steam lasting to form to the foot.  A hyperbolic knitted/crocheted upper could potentially be made in one complete piece, without the need for lasting.  The key is where and how to increase the number of stitches when knitting.

Starting with the strobel as the base standard knit pattern, the hyperbolic knit would sweep outwards around the last spiraling upwards until it met at the top of the shoe.  By increasing or decreasing stitches, the upper would loosen or tighten as it wraps around the upper.  Creating support zones on the shoe is also an option,  The bottom 1/2 could be a stretchy weave to allow for give and the top 1/2 of the upper could be tighter weave to create the support.

 Example

Example

 End stitch at the top of the sock.

End stitch at the top of the sock.

Hyperbolic geometry is important because it came about back in the 1800's, and wasn't represented in a simple physical model until 1978.  Hyperbolic geometry is challenging convention, so it must be important.

A hundred years ago, the mathematician David Hilbert proved a theorem that it is impossible to represent the hyperbolic plane in three-dimensional space analytically,” he says. “ ‘Analytically’ means ‘with equations.’ Everybody left off the word analytically later on. They were worried that mistakes or errors would creep into mathematics through geometric intuition, and so they discouraged the study of geometry and everything associated with this weird kind of thinking.

Sneaker School - Recap

Over 60 hrs of work created a pair of bespoke Air Jordan 1's.  The process of making a pair of sneakers is straightforward: cut leather, sew leather, stretch leather, glue on sole. 

Even with a straightforward process, the shoe maker has the ability to put creativity and innovation into each pair he creates.

 Its All A Process

Its All A Process

There were early mornings and late nights, but it was all worth it.  Stitching the leather was the toughest part for me.  A crooked stitch meant the thread had to be removed and that piece of leather might need to be replaced.  There was no room for error.

 Dom "The Shoe Surgeon"

Dom "The Shoe Surgeon"

 The Box

The Box

I'm extremely proud of what I created.  From the flyknit and leathers down to the lasting and stitching, I made it.  I have a Nike sole and a swoosh, but it was made by Aaron. 

One of One.

The 11 students came from different backgrounds, but all shared a love for sneakers and making.  Throughout the whole class, we learned and worked together.  Everyone helped each other realize thier creations.  I was grateful and inspired by the way we worked together as a team.

 Dinner with the class

Dinner with the class