Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Silhouette | Function & Future

Blank Model/Template

The advent of Adidas’s Adipure line-up is a timely reminder that the sneaker silhouette as we know it is subject to drastic and sometimes unrecognisable change. This evolution is and always will be driven by a basic instinct to innovate and incorporate the latest performance based technology in new designs. The 1991 Nike Air (Flight) Huarache is a case in point. By combining an exoskeleton support system with stretchy neoprene, the design gave birth to a whole school of barely-there shoes such as the Nike Air Rift, Nike Air Presto and arguably the Adidas Adipure. What distinguishes the Nike runners from the Adipure is their success at maintaining an appealing silhouette despite the radical changes. Regardless of the technology and fabrics incorporated by Adidas, its exact mimicking of the human foot is aesthetically floored.  Shoe design over the centuries has obsessed over hiding and disguising the shape of the human foot. It is an insufficient attempt by Adidas to veil this new silhouette with a camouflage of new technology and fabrics. The silhouette is so blatantly resembling the foot’s exact anatomy that it will inevitably jar with peoples instinctive aversion towards the  naked foot. What I would like to illustrate is that the silhouette has been increasingly overlooked and sidelined in its importance to the aesthetic qualities of the shoe. Thus, it is time we look past the excess of fancy materials and colourways as the indicators of success.

Taking the above image as a starting point, it's function is as a template, mimicking the shape of a human foot as closely as possible but still retaining qualities of a standardised shoe silhouette. This provides a neutral blank canvass where the material makeup of the shoe is immaterial. Painting the original colourways of selected models with distinguish one shoe from the other. It is also integral that the comparison be made with the original sneaker as below.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Beyond Function

Street Intervention Installation | Adam SmithAlot

Historically the creative relationship between artists and sneakers has been self-contained within the boundaries of customization. Here the preoccupation with decoration relinquishes the potential for the sneaker to act as anything beyond a blank canvass. In contrast from a design perspective, the shoe’s intended function is rarely considered an issue let alone beyond the difficulties it provides for decoration. The artist’s need to accommodate for a changing canvass, through the obvious culprit of wear, typifies the most difficult of these decorative challenges.

For the artist to engage with the shoe on anything other than a decorative basis, it has to be made into an entity of its own right. By severing the shoe from the individual/athlete (who might wear it), the sneaker becomes a static object, seemingly paralyzed by its inability to perform its intended function as an item of dress. It is in this state that an artist can begin to play with ideas of its identity, symbolism, silhouette, animation, form and even its function again. The work of street artist Adam SmithAlot is a case in point to this approach. His playful method allows an accessible point of entry into the world beyond the simply decorative and the material.