What at first glance appears to be an Avatar-like parallel dimension is actually Nike’s experiential Flyknit Collective installation at London’s 1984 space. Yep, just when you thought the London games couldn’t get any more wild, Nike drops a bomb – materialized in crocheted neon and looking oddly reminiscent of your Grandma’s macramé on acid. We were lucky enough to spend some time last week catching up with Ben Shaffer, studio director for Nike Innovation Kitchen, along with project curator Neville Wakefield, who gave us an awesomely exclusive inside look into the installation.
So - what’s the inspiration behind the woven web of gloriousness? We thought you'd never ask. Turns out that Nike has unveiled a very cool, cutting-edge performance shoe, made out of – yup, you guessed it – Flyknit technology. The revolutionary product allows the upper to be constructed entirely out of precisely engineered yarns, eliminating massive amounts of waste and giving performance athletes a light, glove-like fit.
Cables are built in through a breathable fabric, acting like a skeletal corset and moving with the foot like a second skin. This is the very shoe worn by many of the Olympic runners, comprised from a material that is said to change the way performance footwear is deigned, produced and worn.
Okay, as awesome as that all is, how does the Flyknit technology translate to the yarn-bombed, carnivorous plant-like installation at the London games? Nike Teamed up with leading Brazilian sculptor and artist Ernesto Neto to create the Flyknit Collective - a unique hybrid learning workshop and an art exhibit – all inspired by the Flyknit technology.
Shaffer describes the Flyknit Collective as “a series of events focused around different elements of the Flyknit design; performance, lightweight, formfitting, and sustainability.”
Nike has always been big on collaborations, they operate under the philosophy that when two designers collaborate, the final product would be different than either of them would have created on their own. The man responsible for the collaborations of the Flyknit Collective is Neville Wakefield. "The collaborating artists were chosen because they have a similar approach to their art as Nike does," Wakefield explained.
It is Neto's previous work of transforming materials into biomorphic sculptures that captivated Wakefield, and made Neto a perfect choice to join forces with on London's Flyknit Collective.
Lucky for the rest of the world who were too cheap to pony up for airfare to London, Flyknit Collective events are popping up all over the place from Milan to NYC, London, Tokyo, Shanghai and finishing up in Rio.
With permission of the artist - you can leave the 'don't touch the art' rule at the front door. If you visit London's Flyknit collective, feel free to take off your shoes and dive right into the nets. Go on, show us your best back flip!
(Exclusive Photography Provided By Nike)