Last week saw Art & Sole attending a mysterious Nike event that was shrouded in secrecy. The invitation was to celebrate an exciting moment in Nike innovation – and that moment turned out to be the launch of NikeLab, a new retail platform to house all new Nike innovation, limited edition and collaboration projects…
NikeLab opened Thursday 12 June through existing premium Nike retail spaces in London (1948), New York (21M), Paris (P75), Milan (LNZ1) and Shanghai (X158), plus digitally through the NikeLab website. Basically, NikeLab is now the umbrella brand name and showcase for Nike’s most experimental ideas, including collaboration projects with fellow innovators from various fields.
For Nike, innovation also goes beyond product and, as shown in the video below, each NikeLab location aims to achieve maximum performance and aesthetics with low environmental impact. With this in mind, core Nike design principles such as 'less is more', 'lightweight', 'functionality' and 'modularity' inform the fittings and materials used in the construction and functionality of the spaces. Nike designers, together with long- term partner Arthur Huang (founder of product design company Miniwiz), even developed a number of innovative materials created from various recycled materials - including computer motherboards and casings.
The launch event gave us a tour around the refitted 1948 space, complete with bespoke shelving units made from the recycled materials and a speed/light-themed laser installation (image shown top). We were then escorted to a second venue (Village Underground) where we were greeted with an impressive cardboard installation entitled Innovation of Innovators. The installation housed a number of Nike’s most interesting collaborations to date (many of which were art/design-based), and shoes on display included the Ben Drury Tongue n’ Cheek Air Max 90, both the Roundel Air Max 1 and Air Max 90, and a small selection of previous HTM collaborations.
The official launch of NikeLab was 12 June, but the concept reveal actually happened throughout the previous day, with the online release of the first NikeLab product - the Nike Free Mercurial Superfly HTM (we're pretty sure you know what HTM stands for by now) which, of course, sold out instantly. The sock-like shoe is basically a street-inspired version of the Nike Mercurial Superfly football boot - a concept which very interestingly brings the innovation, performance and personality of a football product into the sports culture market...
For more information on NikeLab, visit the website here. The Nike Free Mercurial Superfly HTM was released in the UK on 13 June via NikeLab 1948 LDN