Since Nike Air Max Day on March 26, Nike has been hosting “Nike: On Air”, a global competition for future sneaker designers, where winners can create a pair of Nike Air Max that will be produced and sold.
Aspiring designers applied via Instagram and those selected were given the opportunity to attend a series of workshops. These have already taken place in London, New York, Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo. This weekend, Paris will host the final. Two hundred participants were chosen from over 4000 candidates in the City of Light.
Guided by Nike designers and ambassadors from the local creative community, including Skepta in London and Christelle Kocher de KochÃ© in Paris, participants are tasked with imagining a new Air Max design inspired by their respective city. Workshops include concept development, silhouette selection, material exploration, color and embellishment.
Judges from each city select their top three designs, which will be rendered in 3D and lead to a global online vote, with the most popular by city going into production.
Today, at the Paris premiere, FN met Nike shoe designer Marie Odinot.
FN: How are you going to select the three finalists? What will you be looking for?
MO: I think the most important thing is the story they want to tell. All the right shoes promote emotion. The look and the way you translate it in material, color, shape and finish all come from this concept.
FN: What do you think is the most difficult part?
MO: The concept is the most difficult because some people know what they want their shoe to look like, but don’t necessarily think what they mean. It is not the most obvious thing.
FN: What are your top tips for aspiring designers?
MO: Personalize it; it doesn’t matter if it’s something that only happened to you, it’s still going to affect a lot of people. This is how you get the emotion. If it’s too vague, it’s hard to understand. It’s best to pick one thing to lead with, like a material track or a color track, because if you have too much of it in the story, you might end up with a clown shoe. So it’s also about how your own taste plays with the story.
FN: Tell us about your own professional background?
MO: I went to product design school and really enjoyed the shoe part because it’s a mix of hard and soft together. I started at Nike straight away. I started out with children’s shoes which was a great way to learn. I then worked on women’s training and then on sportswear.
FN: What is the best part of your job?
MO: There are two things: one is to find inspiration in random places to make your shoe unique. The other is the element of collaboration. You get different ideas and perspectives from everyone. For example, with the Nike 270 I worked on the upper and another designer worked on the sole.
FN: How many pairs of sneakers do you own?
MO: I have a lot of them, not “a lot of sneakers” but “a lot of normal people”. About 60.
FN: What is the most recent addition?
MO: The new Air Force 1 from The Ten.
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