For Nike sneaker designer Eric Avar, simplicity is key

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Nike sneaker designer Eric Avar gave us the Foamposite, the original Hyperdunk and worked on every signature Kobe offering in the Nike line. Even with all of those high-end sneakers under his belt, Avar says the design will always be an exercise in restraint.

“Whether it’s a story or a design element, you’re trying to achieve the simplicity and purity of the problem you’re trying to solve,” Avar told SI.com. “We always start with high functionality and high performance, then high design. (We are) always trying to make things simple, beautiful and appropriate. It’s a fusion of all of these things.

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As Avar talks about his time designing sneakers for everyone from the average NBA star to one of the most intense co-designers on the planet – yes, we’re talking about Kobe – he knows he is. focusing on the performance of the shoe and its history work separately. , yet together.

It all starts with the performance side of things, even if designers need to identify one specific technology that is dominant.

“You can create something extremely light, but it might not have the cushioning you need,” Avar says of the give-and-take. “If you shoot one attribute, you really shoot all the others. Sometimes you dial in and amplify one or two elements, but they’re all interconnected.

[daily_cut.NBA]Avar has worked in a variety of design capacities during his 24-year career at Nike, but the most progressive work includes the Kobe line. Kobe’s shoes, including the latest in the line, the Kobe X, come from Nike’s Advance Innovation group, not the traditional “basketball category”.

“Myself and the whole team are exposed to all the different types of emerging technologies in all the different categories of sports,” said Avar. “A good designer, a good team is always looking for a possible solution to the problems they are trying to solve.”

Use the Kobe 9 as an example. The ultra-high top that debuted in 2014 was the first Nike basketball shoe to use Nike’s Flyknit technical yarn. In the Kobe X, Avar and Kobe worked to put together a variety of technologies to maximize cushioning: Lunarlon foam cut to move with the foot’s natural flex and Max Air for extreme heel support. They also designed a new outsole design for extreme grip.

But every shoe has more than technology, it has a story.

“What is the dominant story you want to tell? Avar asks. “If you apply too many elements, too many stories, it can sometimes [become too much]. “

Avar admits that sometimes working on multiple stories in a single shoe can still work in creating a fusion or conglomeration of ideas, but most of the time having one or two main elements helps bring a story to life.

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Kobe, who has been, in his own words, “crazy about” design from the start, knows that merging inspiration and design into a carefully crafted finished product takes expertise. The Laker legend even went so far as to say, “I just had to find inspiration, (Avar) built it all.”

Taking the Kobe X as an example, which had the potential for a hectic, busy look with so many different technologies, Avar is saying functionally that the different parts are linked and work together. “Aesthetically, same thing,” he says. “They’re visually linked and work together, so the overall design is very simple, very sophisticated, very pure. “

In this search for a sober shoe with high-end technology and premium design, Avar cuts everything, seeking the simplicity of sneakers.

Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and equipment for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.

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