PARIS — Industrial designers are proving to be good sports. From Philippe Starck to Marc Newson, more are applying their ergonomic know-how to sports equipment and apparel that not only look good, but are designed to do a body good, too.
“[Furniture design] does not need to consider performance,” said Gérard Laizé, director of the Paris design gallery VIA, whose recent exhibit was devoted to innovation in activewear and equipment. “[Sports design] is incontestable innovation as it can be measured.”
Take, for example, French industrial designer Jean-Marc Seynhaeve, who designed bright yellow flippers for French sport retailer Décathlon. In addition to their sleek look, they have hydrodynamic properties: The hole in the middle allows for optimal thrust while reducing the risk of ankle injury.
Décathlon also found a solution for an often unsightly stationary bike, with a modern look that wouldn’t appear out of place in a living room. Sports design also incorporates the latest electronic technology. Nixon’s Delta watch for snowboarders comes equipped with a listing of the hottest hills, while Adidas’ A1 running shoe calculates a runner’s pace with a built-in computer.
But Laizé said sports design could aid everyday design. For example, high-tech materials like Gore-Tex or silicone could be used for furniture, increasing comfort while reducing weight and volume.
“Technology will transfer from a more inventive and innovative universe such as sports to a more traditional and function-oriented sector,” Laizé predicted. “Although it’s doubtful we’ll start racing armchairs.”