18 Mar The Evolution of Nike’s Visible Air
The Evolution of Nike’s Visible Air is the reason why the Air Max 1 is my favourite sneaker of all time, and to prove this, last year I shot a series of 5 looks in my favourite Air Max’s and made it Air Max Week on the blog.
In 1987, when designer Tinker Hatfield, a trained architect set out to make air visible, Nike Air wasn’t necessarily a new proposition. Runners (the reason and inspiration for the Air Max) were already familiar with the cushioning that Nike Air technology was bringing to their running experience.
Inspired by the Centre Pompidou, with its exposed skeleton of brightly coloured tubes, Tinker Hatflied simply sought to make air visible and that is how Nike Air became the Nike Air we know of today.
Even though Tinker Hatfield is the man cited as the revolutionary behind Nike’s Visible Air, he didn’t do it alone. David Forland, Nike’s Director of Cushioning Innovation is the man who created with his own hands the first prototype of visible air. From that point forward the Nike air-soles that were becoming thinner and thinner started to become thicker and thicker as the pursuit for increased air in the sole began.
“If you look at the history of Air Max, especially from 1987 to 1993, one of the main differences among models was each version held a greater volume of air than the last one, and conversely the least amount of foam. Foam breaks down; air doesn’t.” – David Forland
From the Nike Air Max 90 with its larger volume of air to the Nike Air Max 180 and its 180-degree visible air-sole to the Air Max 97; more air and less foam became the aim and each step in innovation was aimed towards the first foamless shoe: the Air Max 360 which launched in 2006. Fast forward to today; the Air Max 2015; a lightweight performance running shoe that uses tubular construction and flex grooves for maximum bounce and cushioning turns everything on its head with its reverse Swoosh and insane colourways, proving that you can still revolutionize a revolutionary shoe. The Air Max evolution is really fascinating and honestly speaking if you are in Johannesburg; I would recommend you go down to The Alex Theatre in Braamfontein and check out the 25PSI space the installation on the Evolution of Visible Air.