Nike has unveiled a modular sneaker shoe

News — 04 May 2022

The new Ispa Link breaks paradigms and takes us into the future. Darryl Matthews VP, Catalyst Footwear Product Design at the Beaverton-based brand tells us about it.

Nike continues to innovate the sneaker game, this time presenting a modular shoe that can be disassembled and then recycled with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint. The design of the Ispa link and Link Axis models is radical and throws us directly into the future, once again summarising the Beaverton brand's ability to break paradigms. These new trainers are part of the ISPA philosophy (Improvise, Scavenge, Protect, Adapt), an invitation to creators to experiment and break the mould, trying to reimagine products. With this project, 50 years after its foundation, Nike continues to implement its strategy, in the name of research, experimentation and innovation, to achieve its sustainability goals for 2025 and beyond. As such, this Ispa Link looks at today's challenges related to the need to limit waste and makes an important contribution to the debate on the relationship between design and sustainability. We spoke to Darryl Matthews VP, Catalyst Footwear Product Design.

From a design perspective, what are the essential characteristics that a sneaker should have today?

I think it’s quite difficult to answer the exact characteristics that a sneaker should have today, because I feel like depends on the process and also on the narrative approach. I would say the designer needs to have to investigates an amount of exploration around sustainability processes. That should always be applied to the concept journey and let that actually dictate how the shoe in a way comes to be from an aesthetic standpoint. It should be no compromise. There is price points that are applied to products like shoes and it's easy to kind of get distracted by aesthetic and the form over its functions.

Nike Ispa Link

What are the challenges that a shoe designer has to face today?

I like being challenged as designer, it’s part of the job. The challenge is in a way part of why you do what you do. I feel like that today designers have more like a meaningful understanding between themselves, the consumer and the product approach. And I guess with that comes a lot of like, re-education or we educating yourself. I have to be like honest, we work for a big corporation corporations that have large fan base and we produce a lot of product output. There's a weight of responsibility that you have now and maybe you may not had previously before. Society changes and it’s a necessity that designers make the right choices.

Nike Ispa Link

Nike is pushing the accelerator on sustainability. What impact does this have for designers?

Sustainability is not a theme. What Nike is intensifying is their declaration of the future intent. And design is playing a big role, a big part of that because design have to educate themselves in the right way to deliver a better future for Nike and for athletes. We can look back through our archives and we have a plethora of sustainable initiatives that were applied to product journeys that just weren't in the right place, we didn't have the correct advancements in innovation for to be delivered. We're revisiting quite a lot of that: for example the Link the Link Axis are products have been educated by the last 30 years of exploration by Nike. Modular design is disassembly, a big component of circularity. This shoe is all about reduction of the cementation process, there's no glues on, it’s only held together in tension and geometry. As designer that's not how you normally approach, you have to re-learn, re-educate yourself how to apply your skill set to a new method of make. And by doing that, we're looking at previous explorations like Presto Clip or Z Doc. These weren't design for disassembly, they have an element of glue and the cementation process is applied to it. Today we recycle these components, so now he shoe is 100% made from recycled content and it’s recyclable. This process is even like change the way in which we kind of approach manufacturing: there is no heat anymore, there's no glue lines, there is no cooling processes, there is fewer steps to make the shoe.

Nike Ispa Axis

A Nike product you are particularly attached to and why.

Personally I'm obsessed with methods of make and processes and especially those sneakers that identify with me, elevating an element of exploration around process. I appreciate Presto Clip and Z Doc immensely because of what they have achieved, they are still as contemporary today as they were back then. But one that is actually very simple and quite dear to my heart would be City Knife and the reason for why I appreciate that design more than most is because it was all about pattern efficiency.

Read also: Nike's new strategy based on sustainability

Tag: Nike Interviste Sustainability

© — All rights reserved. — Published on 04 May 2022

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