This article was written with reference to “The Absurd History of Nike Air Technology”, which has excellent insight from Gizmodo.
In 1978, Nike launched the Air Tailwind. Air Tailwind is a model that hides air pocket in the middle of the shoe’s soles. Nike’s air pocket technology was an invisible technology at the time.
Air Force 1
After this, Nike swept the world’s basketball courts with Air Force 1 and Air Jordan in the 1980s. Nike changes engineering at the time. In previous models, the air pocket that was hidden was made visible. With this technology, Nike launches Air Max 1. Nike’s Air Max 1 was a branding strategy for a technology – oriented company, but on the other hand it was a strategy that instill consumers a fantasy.
Why did Nike make air pockets a physical user interface? Nike is inspired by the Georges Pompidou Center in France. The success of the Georges Pompidou Center, which at the time was unprecedented, gave Nike confidence and positioned Nike as a future-oriented company pursuing science-based design.
Support structures and pipes for building maintenance are noticeably aligned outside the building. The support structure and the air supply pipe are painted white, the transportation means (staircase, escalator) are red, the electric wiring is yellow, the water pipe is green, and the pipes related to the air conditioning system are blue. This creates a huge and effective space within the interior that is free and flexible, out of support.
The Centre Georges-Pompidou is located on the eastern(rear) side of the Building Engineering Pavilion, with a red escalator on the west(front), which runs across the front of the building. The new facade types and their composition have been controversial from the beginning. Many people of the same age thought that this building seems a factory, and that this building did not fit the place and purpose. However, the Centre Georges-Pompidou is considered to be a important building for the first time in the architectural discourse between modernism and postmodernism.
With the success of Air Max, Nike has developed the core process of replacing the entire sole of athletic shoes sole with air pockets. And Nike supported the Air Max 360 for Stanford athletes. Ironically, however, the best record came when Stanford athletes runned on their bare feet, not when they were wearing sneakers.
This was eventually introduced to the Bare to Run barefoot exercise club and reported that excessive sneaker cushioning had a detrimental effect on injuries and knee conditions. But Nike responded by launching the Air Free series and trying out a new marketing strategy that gives the option of choice.
For reference, Airfree 3.0 was a model that had fewer air pockets so had a barefoot running effect, and Airfree 7.0 was a model that let you feel a lot of soft cushions with lots of air pockets.
After this, Nike uses sensual advertising and design that reflects consumers’ taste as much as possible and they uses strategies that satisfy various people’s tastes.
And then there’s the vast sea of Nike fans for whom sneaker technology isn’t just about running. It’s about fashion. People buy shoes for a lot of different reasons, and Nike is reissuing old sneakers from the Air Max lineup left and right. The company is also reincorporating classic Air Max technology into new designs and even splicing Air Max technology into Nike Free soles.