Nike+ House of Innovation.

Last night Closetbox was invited to an evening at Nike+ House of Innovation at Selfridges hosted by Dezeen.

Dezeen’s editor in chief Marcus Fairs questioned Nike’s creative director for the Olympics Martin Lotti about the development and technological advances in design sportswear for the Olympic teams which Nike sponsor.

They discussed the psychology of looking good in sportswear which was described as “absolutely critical” to sports design, and the need for style and its significance, which Lotti reported that Alpine skier Maria Kirkova once told him “I perform better if I look better.”

When Nike created a custom-designed, super lightweight pair of gold shoes for Michael Johnson at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the American sprinter still raced wearing a necklace that weighed more than the shoe. “You can tell that psychologically it’s absolutely critical for an athlete to have this with him: it brings him good luck. So you have to bring all the elements together,” said Lotti. “Yes we’re trying to shave off weight or milliseconds but there are other components that as a designer you have to take into account.”

Nike are already developing sportswear for the World Cup and Olympics in Rio in 2014 and 2016 and for the London 2012 Olympics, the Nike team developed the Nike Pro TurboSpeed speed suit that moves through the air faster than bare skin.

The inside surfaces of the arms and legs on the Nike Pro TurboSpeed suit feature patches of contrasting colour.
“There’s a psychological element to this,”said Lotti. “Now we can’t quantify it – how much faster it is – but they feel faster.”

Colour blocking in this way creates a flickering effect when seen from a distance or on TV, so spectators feel that sense of speed too.
“When we’re designing this product we’re looking at all elements: delivering upon the needs of the athletes, first and foremost, upon the environment but then even on the viewers looking on TV.”

The Nike Zoom Superfly R4 running spikes are golden on the bottom for the same reason:
“When you’re in the stadium you actually see the flicker of the gold when the light hits it”.
Again focusing on the psychological effect on the athlete: “Each athlete’s trained for the gold.”

What do you think?

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