The Nike talk with Marc Newson and Mark Cavendish


THE SUM OF ITS PARTS: Less is more comfortable: That seems to sum up the design accomplishment of Marc Newson, who was tapped by Nike to interpret its Air VaporMax style. His lightweight moccasin design is constructed with 10 parts, whereas the original Air Max was created with 37 different components.

“I learned an enormous amount about taking fairly traditional materials — yarns and old-fashioned materials — and giving them a three dimensionality. Which is a pretty modern use of old materials in a contemporary way,” the industrial designer told a small crowd gathered at the Nike 1948 store in London this week.

British professional cyclist Mark Cavendish, who has a special interest in design and performance technology and is an early adopter of skin suits and aero helmets, joined Newson in conversation.

The NikeLab Air VaporMax x Marc Newson style, priced at $275, drops on March 26 – a day the activewear giant has dubbed “Air Max Day.”

Newson and Cavendish spoke about design and collaborations. Australian-born, London-based Newson was initially trained as a jeweler and his work spans from footwear and furniture to luggage and teakettles. He began working with Nike in 2000 on the Zvezdochka, a limited-edition style inspired by astronaut suits worn at the Russian Space Institute in 1961.

“I took this as an opportunity to do the opposite of what someone else might do,” Newson said about the Air VaporMax assignment. “I wanted to use the craft stitch to things you might associate with agricultural product. The use of leather and knitting in this context is massively complex and technological. There’s this wonderful cultural juxtaposition of skills and things going on. I think it’s safe to say the future is a manifestation of a dream. Sneakers are one of these typologies that crosses many boundaries.”

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