Nike sneaker designer Eric Avar gave us the Foamposite, the original Hyperdunk and worked on every signature Kobe offering in the Nike line. Even with all of those high-end sneakers under his belt, Avar says the design will always be an exercise in restraint.
âWhether it’s a story or a design element, you’re trying to achieve the simplicity and purity of the problem you’re trying to solve,â Avar told SI.com. âWe always start with high functionality and high performance, then high design. (We are) always trying to make things simple, beautiful and appropriate. It’s a fusion of all of these things.
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As Avar talks about his time designing sneakers for everyone from the average NBA star to one of the most intense co-designers on the planet – yes, we’re talking about Kobe – he knows he is. focusing on the performance of the shoe and its history work separately. , yet together.
It all starts with the performance side of things, even if designers need to identify one specific technology that is dominant.
âYou can create something extremely light, but it might not have the cushioning you need,â Avar says of the give-and-take. âIf you shoot one attribute, you really shoot all the others. Sometimes you dial in and amplify one or two elements, but they’re all interconnected.
[daily_cut.NBA]Avar has worked in a variety of design capacities during his 24-year career at Nike, but the most progressive work includes the Kobe line. Kobe’s shoes, including the latest in the line, the Kobe X, come from Nike’s Advance Innovation group, not the traditional âbasketball categoryâ.
âMyself and the whole team are exposed to all the different types of emerging technologies in all the different categories of sports,â said Avar. “A good designer, a good team is always looking for a possible solution to the problems they are trying to solve.”
Use the Kobe 9 as an example. The ultra-high top that debuted in 2014 was the first Nike basketball shoe to use Nike’s Flyknit technical yarn. In the Kobe X, Avar and Kobe worked to put together a variety of technologies to maximize cushioning: Lunarlon foam cut to move with the foot’s natural flex and Max Air for extreme heel support. They also designed a new outsole design for extreme grip.
But every shoe has more than technology, it has a story.
âWhat is the dominant story you want to tell? Avar asks. âIf you apply too many elements, too many stories, it can sometimes [become too much]. “
Avar admits that sometimes working on multiple stories in a single shoe can still work in creating a fusion or conglomeration of ideas, but most of the time having one or two main elements helps bring a story to life.
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Kobe, who has been, in his own words, “crazy about” design from the start, knows that merging inspiration and design into a carefully crafted finished product takes expertise. The Laker legend even went so far as to say, “I just had to find inspiration, (Avar) built it all.”
Taking the Kobe X as an example, which had the potential for a hectic, busy look with so many different technologies, Avar is saying functionally that the different parts are linked and work together. âAesthetically, same thing,â he says. âThey’re visually linked and work together, so the overall design is very simple, very sophisticated, very pure. “
In this search for a sober shoe with high-end technology and premium design, Avar cuts everything, seeking the simplicity of sneakers.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and equipment for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.
The 10 best SI sneakers of 2014
10. KYRIE 1
A brand new signature shoe from the Nike line debuted in December, allowing this newcomer to the shoe of the year list to make our top 10 with its dynamic style. The KYRIE 1 features lightweight technology that includes a Hyperfuse upper – the layering of multiple Nike materials into one technology – and a traction pattern that climbs up the sidewalls of the shoe. Aesthetically, the Hyperfuse offers a pebble look that is not seen elsewhere in the Nike line.
Everyone needs minimalist visuals in their basketball shoe repertoire. Jordan Brand’s eighth signing Chris Paul delivers that. With a unique 5/8 height and an inner sleeve for a sock-like fit, the technology remains understated with the aesthetic.
8. Clutch drive
Expect a lot of height when dealing with Under Armor. So that the ultra-high top offers a feeling of fit, a âsecond skinâ ClutchFit technology envelops the foot. This shoe worn by Stephen Curry also offers a distinct aesthetic that allows Under Armor to play with color, but also very well in black and white, without invading your eyes.
7. J Wall 1
The Washington Wizards star’s first signature shoe features understated styling. The JW logo appears across the shoe and the United States map on the sole with “Wall” written on the left and right shoe adds custom touches. Technology which includes a breathable mesh textile upper with overlays helps the materials show a mix of colors that work on or off the court.
6. KOBE 9 Elite
Flyknit. The use of engineered yarns places the Kobe 9 Elite in the top 10. The use of Flyknit increases the comfort factor while reducing weight, giving basketball shoes a new feeling of wear and tear. Of course, Kobe goes for a super high shoe that offers plenty of Flyknit surface area to design on for dramatic coloring and design. And if it comes as a plus or a minus, it’s in the eye of the beholder.
5. Hyperdunk 2014
Maybe the 2014 Hyperdunk isn’t the sexiest shoe of the year, but who doesn’t love solid performance on the court? Nike’s signature signature shoe is proving popular from high school through to the NBA thanks to Lunarlon foam cushioning technology, Flywire cabling for support and a Hyperfuse upper that helps reduce weight. Lunarlon foam combines with Hyperfuse to play together or contrast for an unlimited variety of aesthetics.
4. LEBRON 12
With all this talk about speed and quickness, LeBron needs a shoe that is powerful enough to handle his size. That’s why Nike focused on an all-new Zoom Air cushioning system that uses the pressure mapping research of a basketball player’s movements to define how the LEBRON 12 feels. Highly researching, Nike had fun with the coloring of the shoe, giving us a lot of pops and brightness to remind us all that power requires cushioning.
3. Crazy Light Boost
At 11.6 ounces, the Crazylight Boost lives up to its name, but still provides ample cushioning by bringing new adidas cushioning technology to basketball. The Boost system, a new layer of foam built by steaming thousands of pea-sized capsules, also plays visually. And while that Boost technology and the mesh upper help make it an extremely comfortable shoe, the dynamic coloring options give the Crazylight Boost a lot of personality.
Oh, how we love the strap. The KD7 bracelet gives such a playful style to Kevin Durant’s seventh technological signature. From the multiple cushioning technologies to the ventilated mesh and from the Flywire cabling to the durable Hyperposite, the technology allows the KD7 to shine, while the myriad of colorways give us all kinds of KD-inspired looks, including with designs influenced by weather conditions. But the best part? This strap.
1. Air Jordan XX9
Perhaps the carbon plate for a light and strong support impresses you. Of course, this Italy woven upper also adds a nice light and technical touch. But to be fair, this shoe worn by Russell Westbrook isn’t primarily about tech. No, although nice, the aesthetic touches us every time. The best-selling Jordan Brand shoe shines with the Jumpman wrapping the back of the XX9. Just as it should be.