The Nike Air Max has a very curious story. It was Tinker Hatfield’s first big hit. He had wanted to unite two ideas floating around at Nike, which were to have as much air as possible, and to make it visible. The air aspect was all well and good, but only those who tried on the sneakers recognized its benefit. In order to make people want to try them on, something had to be done so the technology could be seen. But how to make it work? The inspiration came to Hatfield during a trip to the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
The design of the Pampidou Centre was revolutionary to Parisians. In a place filled with romanticism, Renzo Piano created a building inside out. All that is functional about the building is external. Air shafts, piping, elevators… are elements visible to all in bright colours. This is what inspired Tinker Hatfield to “externalize the technology” of Nike sneakers. Even the transparent piping of the outdoor staircases evoke the visible air chamber. This museum has become emblematic to sneaker head and blogger Kike from sz9, who, during his honeymoon trip to Paris, was looking for Pompidou just to compare them with the Nike Air Max.
There was also a functional aspect to having the visible air chamber. Supposedly air was better than foam, and the visible air was the best way to remove all the foam possible in the shoe. The worst was people’s reaction. Would you drive a car with transparent tires?
Now you’ll have an idea of how far inspiration can take you…
You can take home this illustration when you buy one of our Nike Air Max. Just enter the SZ9 code in our shopping cart. Follow the rest of our sneakeroots series, in collaboration with the seize9 blog, who brings you the best sneaker stories (in Spanish!).