There are two shoes that I can confidently say made me become a designer. In 1997, the Air Jordan XIII was released. That shoe to me is the perfect example of story telling within a product. It was inspired by a widely unknown nickname of Michael Jordan’s, “The Black Cat” as his friends and teammates knew him; represented his stealth like moves on the court. Tinker Hatfield took that nickname as inspiration and created a performance product completely from attributes of a Black Panther. That shoe and story made me want to become a shoe designer when I was in the seventh grade. The next year the Air Flightposite was previewed in the spring issue of SlAM! and it forever solidified me in a career of design.
I have always been obsessed with the art of the human body and particularly the anatomy. My love of drawing started at a very young age with me recreating images of Michael Jordan. I was always attracted to the movements he made. The way he twisted and contorted his body was like poetry in motion to me. That element of his art has always stuck with me and subconsciously has affected my attraction to products. I think this is most evident in my love for the Flightposite 1.
That shoe was the first product that I saw and couldn’t believe that it was created. It was completely new and fresh; I had never seen anything like it. The first use of Foamposite was beautiful in its sculptural element and its use of bold color but it was visually too heavy for me. When the Flightposite 1 dropped and I saw how the shape tapered to your foot and became an extension of the body I was instantly inspired to start drawing.
At the same time of the Flightposite 1 was the surge of the Internet and with it came a lot of great sites. Niketalk was the top one but there also was a site called NikePark. This site had a significant influence on how I learned to draw footwear as they had managed to get the inspiration boards of the Flightposite, which most of them are above, as they showed that you had to have an inspiration. You couldn’t just start drawing a shoe it all started with where it comes from, the reason for being. The Flightposite 1 inspiration instantly put me at awe, as it was all of these twisting forms that were stimulated by how muscle wrapped on top each other and contorted to create this very significant and iconic form. The shoe just looked like it was constantly flexing.
As I matured as a designer I still would reference back to that product as the shoe that changed the game for me. I see that shoe as the transition of the 90’s EVA and leather based forms to what the future would become. The styling and production process created a product that couldn’t be duplicated. In my eyes it also started a revolution throughout Nike as I believe it inspired the rest of the designers there to push further as Nike blessed us with some truly inspiring product from 1999 and on. This shoe forever changed the game. There was no going back once it came it out.
The Flightposite 1 still inspires me to this day, which I think is an example and a testament of what good design can do. If you create a product for the right reasons, form follows function; it will withstand the test of time. I am forever grateful that Nike included it in their “Most Iconic Nike Basketball Shoes Of The Past 20 Years,” as I now have a good collection of the inspiration images and sketches to forever make me aspire to think differently on a daily basis with my projects.
The crazy thing is that I don’t have a pair. How great would it be if they rereleased them? Just a thought…