10,000+ applicants, 18 finalists and 6 winners. Have you guessed it yet? In April 2018, Nike took the creative scene into their very own hands and selected a handful of young Londoners to design a Nike Air Max sneaker that best captured the spirit and story of our iconic city, London. The ON AIR studio held at the White Rabbit Studios, East London was open from the 9th to 12th of April to NikePlus members who also got to experience the history and DNA of Air through an exhibition, alongside cultural sessions and design workshops.
The ON AIR workshop is currently happening in 6 cities around the world giving creatives the chance to turn their imagination into reality, and I was extremely fortunate enough to have been selected to go up against fellow creatives to design the next Nike Air Max which best represent my city, London. A panel of experts would then select 3 of the best concepts from London which would then be turned into 3D designs. The 3 designs would then go into a face off on the Nike: ON AIR voting hub and the design with the most public votes will be made!
On Wednesday 11th April, I headed down to the ON AIR studio with other contestants in one of the last sneaker design workshops of the week. Preparation before the workshop was vital. The whole idea was to think of a unique concept which connects you with London and understand how your concept could translate into your design. Of course, this was a challenge in itself as there were around 200 people in total competing in London, so trying to think of something that no one else has done required lots of positive brain energy, time and mastering the skill to think outside the box.
Upon arrival of the workshop, the group was split into two and we were taken on a journey through the exhibition space, which showed the history and DNA of our most sought upon sneakers. This was presented in a variety of montaged art designs, whilst being given a lesson about the different Nike Air Max silhouettes and where they originated from. This then lead us to the main exhibition space which was later opened to the public to come and view and then, we entered the workshop.
In the first hour of the workshop, we were introduced to our crazily talented mentors for the day. We were joined by Nike VP Creative Director of Colour Design Courtney Dailey, Nike Senior Design Director Nate Jobe, Footwear Designer and Digital Magazine Concept Kicks, Nike Footwear Designer Marie Odinot and Materials Expert and Director of Ma_tt_er Seetal Solanki. Mentors also included Grime Legend Skepta and Streetwear Designer Alexa aka Mini Swoosh who participated in other workshops.
Mentors then gave a lesson in their field which helped us students understand and develop our concept to the highest potential. Our first lesson was based around colour theory, followed by a silhouettes and embellishment talk, finishing off with learning and understanding different materials and how they can be utilised within your sneaker to make sense with your story.
After our lessons, everyone started to get stuck into designing their trainer. No hybrids were allowed as the production procedure can be highly difficult at times to combine various silhouettes together, so Nike kept it simple with a selection of 10 Air Max Trainers (only one hybrid was allowed which was the Vapormax Plus). A2 size papers with the trainer silhouette on were presented round the room, allowing us to choose a silhouette to work on. I chose the Vapormax Plus as I think this trainer best represents me right now.
Those 3 hours in the workshop zoomed passed and it literally got to the point where people were trying to talk to me and I couldn’t respond back. Not only do you have to design, you have to write your full concept down, annotate your work, add material patches and colours onto your sneaker, so when the judges come to judge, they get the best understanding of your concept and story of London. Next thing you know, it was all over!
After the design session had finished, our work was given a unique QR code and a number which represented us. Our designs were then photographed and we had to do a 30 second short video explaining our concept. This was then put on a Nike USB which we were allowed to keep.
This experience has been amazing. Being able to say I’ve designed a trainer with Nike and gaining such incredible knowledge and understanding in what it takes to create a trainer is a whole other world in itself. Good luck to everyone taking part! Nike London, THANK YOU.