“Good design is a balance between art and science — bold expression and just enough familiarity.”- Eric Avar, Nike Designer
Nike Basketball’s releases over the past 20 years represent the definition and redefinition of the hoops shoe. A 20-year work-in-progress. A cycle of delivering the unimaginable, making it better and then doing it all over again.
Nike designers have instigated multiple movements from 1992 to the present day. Of course, Nike has been committed to basketball since the 1970s. But new rules in the early 1990s opened up a global stage for the brand’s elite athletes, changing perceptions of basketball forever.
Branding was minimized, amplified, removed, flipped and then resurrected. Leather gave way to Durabuck, then pioneering poured foams, before uppers were fused. Shorts got longer, colorways went metallic and pearlescent before exploding in a limitless burst of brightness. Then there was Max Air, Nike Zoom, Tuned Air, Nike Shox and Nike Lunarlon — assistants in the sole unit for every type of player.
Nike designed for every movement, every dunk on primetime, every embarrassment in a concrete park somewhere. It matched point for point the new breed of athletes with their multiple modes of play.
Nike Air Force 180 Low, 1992
“Technology has always been the thing that drives, motivates and consumes us. The Air 180 is the product of that obsession.”- Phil Knight
Catering to powerful players by redefining Air, the Nike Air Force 180 Low represented a significant evolution and extension of Nike Basketball’s design language. At the time of this shoe’s release, Nike Air was almost 14 years old and Visible Air was five. How do you build on those pressurized foundations? By adding 50% more cushioning. Strapping down the player for superior support, it was clear that the 180 and power basketball went together like Barkley and controversy. When this Force hit the hardwood during the summer of 1992, victory was guaranteed. While the shoe has seen plenty of colors, that red, white and blue with a fade to gold represents an iconic moment in sneaker and sporting history. The Nike Air Force 180 Low is a classic shoe —cushioned to protect, but built to intimidate.
Article and photos via: Nike Inc