[As originally posted on Counter Kicks' footwear design division: Project Bluefoot.com] The Project Bluefoot x Air Jordan Design Competition is now complete. Our 2 guest judges – Jason Mayden, Senior Designer at Jordan Brand and D’Wayne Edwards, Design Director at Jordan Brand – graciously lent us their design eyes and ears over the past few months to review and critique our debut Project Bluefoot Footwear Design Competition highlighting an Air Jordan theme challenge. A mass came to play. Many challenged. One won. To get the official inside scoop on the finalist concepts and our Air Jordan winner, we now turn over the transmission to Jason Mayden and D’Wayne Edwards who have provided a detailed feedback review of each challenger and selected our ultimate Project Bluefoot Air Jordan Design winner: Tom Matic. Continue reading for the full review…
Design Feedback by Jason Mayden and D’Wayne Edwards:
Overall no one called out specifics in regards to weight and construction. There were a lot of mentions of “lightweight” and “considered” but no one called out a specific weight target nor did they call out specific considered principles. All this info is available online. We felt overall that most of the entrants said what they felt was “designer-esque” versus truly connecting an insight to an innovation. It’s great to have “cool” stories that can be referenced for footwear details but it’s more important that each insight solve a specific problem. It felt as if they were all anxious to do the sketching and the rendering. We would have liked to seen images of worn out shoes, self guided product testing theories, models/mockups and examples of what they were trying to do. No one said that they had to just draw. Its time to think outside of the “sketch” build models, tape up existing shoes, cut up shoes and take video/still images of the problem you are trying to solve. Then document the testing of your hypothesis. Design is a process, not a series of veneered sketches.
BUT, with that being said, the level of talent was phenomenal. They all just need more guidance and proper design education. Anyone who believes that they can “draw a hot shoe” and then BOOM get a career, not a job as a serious designer without some form of formal education is mistaken. College, college, college. Enough said. Now on to the good stuff………
The initial opening statement of “elevation” was very articulate and directly in line with how we view the creation of an Air Jordan. Yurri, did a great job with integrating his visual inspiration, and creating a compelling visual composition and aesthetic. His color choices for his sketches were fresh and interesting, but that energy did not translate into the final design. Additionally, I would have love to seen the incorporation of the key principles of flight “drag and lift” and how aerodynamics could play into footwear. As the design stands right now it appears to be extremely heavy and potentially too layered. The use of the tpu chassis and the carbon fiber was excessive. You will only need one or the other. Additionally, the neoprene bootie was a great and comfortable addition but the overall material selection, technologies and constructions did not truly elevate the Air Jordan beyond where we are today. All in all though GREAT GREAT effort. Judges Rating: 7 out of 10.
Ben is consistently creating interesting renderings and contrasting that with interesting stories. The reason I chose the words “renderings and stories” versus “designs and insights” is because when creating a shoe like the Air Jordan we look to innovate and solve a problem or to enhance an attribute. We have the benefit of having the G.O.A.T as inspiration so the need to incorporate the Michael Jackson influence, albeit clever, did not push the concept in the direction it needed to be in.
Ben’s use of coding, the musical notes detail, was phenomenal but once again, veneering is only relevant if the initial concept is solid. I would have love to seen more exploration into the world of dynamic movement and studies of the body in motion. Both MJ’s were masters of physical manipulation. They did things with their bodies in motion that defied belief. At the core of their greatness was a God given ability to improvise in mid stride. Had Ben dove deeper into dance, motion and biomechanics this concept could have move way beyond a tribute shoe into to something truly innovative.
Additionally, I would have loved to seen the creation of a new technology not just a reference to what we currently have. Although this was based on a real shoe, the concepts could have moved beyond manufacturability and into the world of a “north star” for what the Air Jordan franchise can and should become. Judges Rating: 6 out of 10
Beautiful rendering, okay concept. Frederic unfortunately is the product of the misguidance from previous boards. I’m not saying this to be mean or to belittle him.
What I mean is that it has become commonplace for aspiring designers to pull and mix parts for existing shoes. This is not design. In the industry we HAVE TO DO THIS in order to provide for our shareholders. We are bound by law to protect the interest of the shareholders. YOU ARE NOT. Create the world you want to see. Move beyond convention. Destroy the norm to define the future. Its our time now but its your time sooner than you think. If you do not have the right guidance and if we fail to inspire you then this industry we all love will be in the same place that the music industry is in. Too many acts, not enough artists. What I mean is that anyone can download the “I am T-Pain” auto tune app but how many people can read cord progression and understand the musical scale? We need more people who understand the rules of the craft. So I encourage you to create something totally new and fresh for the next competition. Use your God given talent to advance the industry. We are here to help…. Judges Rating: 5 out of 10
Same thing goes for Titus that goes for Frederic. What is that “north star”? What is that one thing about this product that makes it innovative then surround that with something that is familiar. Look at the AJ 2009, some people hate it, some people love it. Some people said it was the greatest, some people said it was the worst. But everyone had something to say. And everyone at least picked it up and tried it on because we tried to push the envelope. Even though we didn’t hit a homerun by way of retail success we got on base in regards to performance, insight, construction and execution. Learn from our successes and from our mistakes. That’s what we are here for. We create what is needed in order to keep the industry moving forward, but its up to you all to create what the industry will evolve into. Like I said before we are here to help. Judges Rating: 5 out of 10
John had the chance to really take this over the top. It was a great concept, great insight and great potential to have a very innovative construction, with using existing parts. The idea of sustainability and being “considered” is something that we take seriously with Nike Inc. Its based on very specific principles, some of which are publicly known. Had John looked at the way existing materials could be used and how the pattern of the shoe, meaning the upper leather pattern, was created that could have been very very interesting. I was expecting to see a patchwork-type of upper that utilized pieces from all of the previous twenty-four previous AJ’s. In addition to utilizing scraps to reduce waste. I am a firm believer that if you reference a companies production creation ethos and or strategies you should thoroughly research what those ethos entail. I know this is easier said than done because we do not publicly state all of our considered strategies because they are trade secrets but this is a chance for you all to create your own considered index. Or add on to what you currently know. But all in all very very interesting work. Judges Rating: 7 out of 10
Simply put Tom raised the bar. From the use of a totally fresh and unexpected take on how MJ played the game to a unique and innovative concept, he totally tried to create something that the world has never seen. What could have made this concept more compelling would be a more disciplined approached to how and when you introduce your inspiration points. Tom lost focus slightly when he mentioned the animal paw as a referenced. Had he stuck to the theme of hang time, or tied it more directly into an animals hang time it would have made more sense. But I do like that fact that he used the paw influence a technology in the upper as well as the tooling. That was a unique. Typically, people would just make the outsole look like a paw.
The greatest missed opportunity was in his choice of color. Color is just as much an innovation as is a new cushioning technology. Color captures movement and emotion. It drives the senses and sums up the attitude of the product. Use color to amplify your lines and to sell you vision. Lastly, listing an exact weight target would have been nice. It also would significantly affect your material choices. Leather, rubber and TPU can and often do, add tons of weight and reduce breathability.
A synthetic material palate could take this concept over the top.
Judges Rating: 8.5 out of 10 [*WINNER]
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