Nike, like every other sneaker company, is constantly trying to drive innnovation in the design of its footwear. Oftentimes that means seeking inspiration from new and unique places. Sometimes that results in some truly bizarre sneakers. That is certainly the case with the shoes Nike created as part of its Nature of Motion exhibition at Milano Design Week.
The sneaker above, EXPERIMENT 20150701301, is based on the cobblestone paths people in Taiwan walk on as a refloxology treatment to improve their health. The rocks used on the sneakers came from Nike’s headquarters in Oregon and man do they look uncomfortable. It’s kind of like walking into an ocean with a rocky bottom except you never get to a point where you can start swimming.
Another model, EXPERIMENT 20151101600, were created to mimic the experience of running on pine needles, which was a directive from Nike’s first employee, Jeff Johnson. It also looks like a recipe for splinters. EXPERIMENT 20151001732 imagined a shoe without any real shape and was dipped in multiple layers of foam so that no matter the impact direction, the shoes would never fully compress.
As weird as the shoes look, they do serve a higher purpose. Nike designers wanted to examine the sensation of running and think of ways to accentuate that. “We’re always playing around with ideas that don’t necessarily have a home,” says Nike designer Tory Cross. “This is cool. This is different. Why would this change the rules for how we make shoes?”
In addition to the sneaker experiments, the exhibition also features the works of 10 designers whom Nike invited to create pieces both practical and experimental.
You can check out more about the thought process that went into the sneakers here: