Made for Nike

The Nike LunarEpic Flyknit

Berlin

16 March 2016

In his 1985 book A Designer’s Art, the American graphic designer Paul Rand provided a memorable take on the purpose of design: “providing meaning to a mass of unrelated needs, ideas, words, and pictures. It is the designer’s job to select and fit this material together—and make it interesting.”

For the past 10 years, the Nike campus in Portland, Oregon, has created a series of technologies worthy of the design world’s attention. Lunarlon, a composite material made from ethylene vinyl acetate and nitrile rubber, was launched in 2008 in the form of lightweight, bouncily cushioned soles. Flyknit followed in 2012: a method of constructing the uppers of shoes from knitted fabric to ape the lightness, flexibility and fit of a running sock. In 2014 came the Magista, a football boot that featured a mid-rise, sock-like flyknit upper to encourage the foot, ankle and lower leg to work together as a single unit.

The trick of course, as Rand knew back in 1985, is to bring such technologies together in a coherent whole. Earlier this month, Nike premiered a shoe that aspires to such bricolage, the Nike LunarEpic Flyknit, at a special event in Berlin.

The LunarEpic Flyknit is a running shoe that draws its inspiration from the basic construction of the Magista. The upper – replete with mid-rise cut – is Flyknit, with the weave opening up in areas where requires greater stretch and breathability. The midsole is formed from two types of heat-bonded foam that feature Lunarlon construction, while the outsole is pressure-mapped with laser-cut geometric Lunarlon pods to provide traction and a responsiveness to the wearer’s movement.

To mark the release of the LunarEpic Flyknit, Disegno was delighted to create a special film at the shoe’s launch in Berlin, which premieres at the top of the page. The film features interview with Phil McCartney, Nike’s vice president of running footwear, as well as Lynsey Sharp, an 800m runner and a member of Team GB. It is both a document of the shoe’s design and creation, as well as a vindication of the Randian view of design: generating meaning from the assemblage of parts.