Big Sneaker by Olaf Nicolai
We went to see the very inspiring Wim Crouwel exhibition at London’s Design Museum last week, and while we were admiring the ‘padded’ typeface that he’d created for a Claes Oldenburg exhibition catalogue in 1970, we couldn’t help being reminded of this huge inflatable (note the reference to Nike Air) sneaker by German artist Olaf Nicolai.
Originally created back in 2001, the enormous Nike Air Max 97 (entitled Big Sneaker) could be likened to one of Oldenberg’s giant everyday objects – with both artists proving that art and everyday design are becoming more and more interchangeable. Nicolai’s Big Sneaker is a comment on desire, consumerism and status, and is meant to question the attitudes that made the Nike sneaker one of the unique style icons of the 1990s.
We also remembered that we had this small book (shown below) based on Nicolai's first exhibition at the Migros Museum for Contemporary Art in Zurich, where the Big Sneaker was first shown. It’s designed by Swiss design studio Norm and is almost a work of art in its own right - with a clear plastic cover, special printing processes and varying paper types and sizes.
As you can see, the first section in the book features a tiled image of the Big Sneaker, spread over eight pages and presented with a key diagram which gives the reader the ability to reproduce the image closer to the size it was intended to be viewed; big