#3) PEAK Basketball Design Concept
Designer: Ethan Lee
Shoe name: PEAK Duo
The progression of athletes behind the scenes got me thinking about transformation and change. The effort they put in is to achieve one thing: getting better. In order to create a shoe that covered all the bases for a basketball player, I knew I needed to have 2 products: a trainer and a basketball shoe. The challenge of combing the two mostly surrounded mechanics and material selection.
From the theme of transformation, I drew inspiration from werewolves. Not only are they the embodiment of change, but they also represent a viciousness that an athlete should try to parallel. During a game there are rules and referees, but off the court an athlete has the freedom to release all reservations. Aesthetically I didn’t want to make anything too literal; when I look at a werewolf I see elegant curves balanced with extremely sharp angles. The raised strips near the ankle on the outer skin were inspired by the way the ribcage pops out during a wolf transformation.
It’s no secret barefoot training is a growing trend. Incorporating it into my concept depended on the outsole. Having a rubber outsole inside another shoe wouldn’t be practical. I wanted to solve this problem with a material solution, not by introducing a bunch of extra parts. After some research, I found a company called Swiss Barefoot that manufactures outdoor “sock-shoes” with knit fabric that is reinforced with a bit of Kevlar and then laminated for extra protection and grip. While their product is made for rugged outdoor use, indoor gym use wouldn’t need too much Kevlar. Having a toughly knit outsole would provide the protection of a traditional outsole, without having the thickness of rubber. In this way, the trainer would be machine-washable and could slip into an outer shell easily as if the user was wearing socks.
Once inside the outer skin, the trainer would be locked down by a thick elastic mid-foot strap and two snap buttons at the heel. To link a low-top with a high-top, I made the trainer tongue extra long so that it can fold down or fold up depending on usage. When folded up, the skin’s Velcro strap would wrap around it and secure the user’s ankle.
Visual Indication of Work
A shoe’s form might not be able to change during use, but why can’t the color? By using a thermochromic fabric panel at the forefoot of the outer skin, there would be a change of color depending on the amount of heat being emitted by your feet. The more time you spend on the court and the more effort you put in, the more the color would change.
Design feedback by Brett Golliff:
Ethan did an excellent job on his rendering and explaining his concept but I think his concept is a slight example of putting too much into his design. He had two unique story elements that each could and would take a lot of development in their own right.
The idea of a color changing story from heat is awesome, it’s a little counter intuitive from a performance shoe because you don’t really want to feature your foot getting hot but it could make for a very unique aesthetic. I would have liked to see how you could have made this feature more dynamic, especially because today’s basketball market is so focused on colorways it would have been cool to see some interesting combinations and how the heat made the color react and interact with the pattern.
As for the modularity in the shoe, it is a great idea and an obvious trend. I think you could have taken your Kevlar sock idea and expanded on how the Kevlar interacts to lock you down. Modularity creates a lot of elements to a shoe that all deserve their own focus, you have to balance what is going on with the aesthetic and the function to make sure it isn’t too over bearing to the consumer.
Right now what you have provided is the beginning stages of what could be a really great design. I think if you went back and did a little refinement you have an excellent portfolio piece!
Design feedback by Trung Tran:
This is a really interesting concept around modularity. I can’t think of a shoe out there where at least one of the elements remains functional when disassembled (except for those rain overshoes). Modularity is great for customizing and fine tuning a product to your needs, but this concept really adds more value to each element.
I think knit-tough was a great find for the intended use, but considering Ethan researched the Swiss Barefoot Company, I think his design solution for the training shoe is overbuilt. The SPS from the Swiss Barefoot Company is a reinforced sock that seems pretty suitable as-is for weight lifting, cardio machines and light running. He over-thought it by making the upper more complex and losing that seamless sock fit. It would have been interesting for him to evolve the sock idea and maybe look at how socks are made. He could have played with the knit or the thread to make it more breathable or see what other no sew application could have been used to reinforce the sock if he needed.
Great explanation and exploded views. The size, proportions, and really sharp corner of the quarter triangles look off to me. I’m not sure how relevant it is to have a thermochromic panel at the vamp. Doesn’t it mean that heat is building up and that it’s not very breathable?
Ethan’s original design intent was cool, but it could have been more focused and efficient.