Nike Air – 3 Decades of Cushioning

By - January 17th, 2006

Edited by Thomas Bradley
Produced by Liquirice

Air. A word synonymous with Nike itself. – This month we take a look at Nike Air and the 3 Decades of Cushioning.

The ‘3 Decades of Cushioning’ packs will be available for sale starting January 21st. See below for more info.

Nike Air   3 Decades of Cushioning

>> Also Check out ‘3 Decades of Cushioning’ in our new Gallery

Air. A word synonymous with Nike itself.

1979 saw the first use of Nike Air technology in athletic footwear forever alter the way athletes would approach and react to sneaker performance. With the introduction of Visible Air eight years later Nike changed the entire face of performance footwear and Air became a symbol of athletic excellence.

Nike continues to evolve this technology 18 years after Visible Air was first introduced. Research and design teams work tirelessly, pushing over and past what was formerly deemed impossible to bring the people one of the most innovative and exciting Nike Air products ever seen. With absolutely no foam, the Air Max 360 shoe features an all encompassing, 360 degree mattress of Nike Air cushioning providing the smoothest and most durable ride ever created. After a 30 year love affair, Nike�s research and development of cushioning technology has birthed the highest performing shoe athletic footwear has ever seen.

To celebrate this extraordinary moment, Nike is launching a unique and special project that pays tribute to the accomplishments in design and technology that have taken place at nike over 3 Decades of Cushioning.

The Idea.
At the heart of �3 Decades of Cushioning� is a selection of the most iconic Nike Air cushioning products, personally selected by Mark Parker, Nike Brand President, who is the engine driving this special endeavor. The brief he issued intends to generate ideas and design concepts that revolve around �Art and Science�, the two elements that are perfectly married in the Air Max 360 shoe. The mission has been driven further by designers Jesse Leyva, Richard Clark, Anthony Hope, Dave Schenone, and Tracie Wiest. Their collective imagination amassed concepts in 56 colors and 32 graphic applications displayed on 8 silhouettes.

The Beauty of Design
The complete Air max technology selection represents the Art, Science and Joy of Nike. Graphics created by Nike Designers during a special competition resulted in 6 different series of artistically stunning shoes. The display is an eye-popping array of Nike Air footwear, each layer representing a different inspiration and execution.

All Whites - Available at Niketowns and 255.
Maintaining the classic white color, embossed graphics representing the �Art & Science of Nike Air� create a subtle and clean update to the classic silhouettes. In keeping with the originals, uppers are a blend of full grain, suede and nubuck leathers.

Nike Air   3 Decades of Cushioning

Extraordinary Oranges
- Available at Niketowns and 255.
This strata begins to introduce the incredible use of color and detail seen across the display. This particular pack begins with a rose colored Original Max shoe and flows in oranges across the other 7 silhouettes, growing more amplified in color with each subsequent shoe and culminating in the rich, ruby red Air Max 360.

Nike Air   3 Decades of Cushioning


Blue Ribbons
- Available at Niketowns and 255.
Being the very essence of polychromatic, the Blue Ribbons series was inspired by Takatoshi Akutagawa�s book, Blue Ribbons. A specific section in the book entitled �Which is your favorite?�urged the Nike design team to return to Nike�s iconic color palette. Down to the original tongue label from the early 70’s, all materials and fabrics have been replicated to authentically re-create the original 8 iconic silhouettes. The highlight of this series is a unique design merger between the original Air Max silhouettes and the aesthetics of the Blue Ribbon collection. Specifically, the couplings are:
Air Max 1 & the Yankee
Air Max 90′ & the Eagle Waffle (ca.1982)
Air Max 180 with the Daybreak Upper and the outsole from the Night Track (ca. 1983)
Air Max 93′ & the Le Village (ca.1974)
Air Max 95′ & the Oregon Waffle Racer (ca.1973)
Air Max 97′ & the Colorado (ca.1977)
Air Max 03′ & the Daybreak (ca.1979)
Air Max 360 & the Night Track (ca.1978)

Nike Air   3 Decades of Cushioning

Extraordinary Greens
- Available at Niketowns and 255.
A similar approach to the Extraordinary orange series, the Green series uses a cooler color palette beginning with soft yellow, traversing through vibrant greens, finally ending with the sleek silver of the Air max 360. Air Sole units and eyelets fluidly move the color progression along from left to right.

Nike Air   3 Decades of Cushioning

All Blacks
- Available at Niketowns and 255.
The tougher side of monochromatic uppers, this collection employs exclusive Nike laser technology by etching graphic stories of �Art and Science of AIR� into the upper materials. As with the original models of each shoe, uppers are fabricated from a combination of full grain, suede and nubuck leathers.
Nike Air   3 Decades of Cushioning

Limited Edition - Available at NORT and Alife Rivington Club (A.R.C.)
Inspired by the toy industry and its prominent use of color, the visual focus is drawn to the Air bags by the boldly colored midsoles. Textural attention is directed to the all black uppers with the use of special materials including crocodile, ostrich and stingray. These materials have also been perforated for enhanced dimension and breathability. As a final stroke in the incredible artistic development of this series, the �Art & Science of AIR� graphics have been carefully applied by laser. A wax film covers the application and protects the design and materials.

Nike Air   3 Decades of Cushioning

A Humble Tribute

While each series has its own personality, there is a unique touch they all share. The footprints of each designer in the original Air Max series have been imprinted on the sock liner of the shoe, or shoes, they created. From the All White to the Limited Edition, these prints can be found paying homage to the brilliant minds that carried Nike to the forefront of athletic footwear, thoughtfully stepping over and around all boundaries along the way. Their endurance is one of a kind and as it is passed from generation to generation their resounding footfalls can be heard in the time to come for Nike is truly in a race without a finishline.

The Originals – The History of Air Pack
Available at your favorite boutiques.

Air Max 87′
Developed by Mark Parker, this is the shoe that dared to be different. By contasting bold red with clean white, the shoe showcased the first ever Visible Air unit, and boasted a new midsole foot frame, heel notch and lace locks, making the Air Max 1 a bubbling cauldron of Nike innovation.
Nike Air   3 Decades of Cushioning

Air Max 90′

Designer Tinker Hatfield blended and mixed the colors and shapes from the midsole to the upper, producing a unique, fast, and aggressive look. The midsole was separated into front and back compartments to allow for a range of performance and material options. This shoe featured a first in the multi-lace port system, one of seven molded parts on the upper.
Nike Air   3 Decades of Cushioning

Air Max 180

Another Tinker Hatfield creation, the Air Max 180 shoe featured a revolutionary 180 degree Visible Air unit. To ensure the Visible Air-Sole was the key recognizable statement, the shoe was designed in simple white with the exception of the Swoosh positioned to compliment and credit the exciting innovation.
Nike Air   3 Decades of Cushioning

Air Max 93′

With focus now on the beauty of design, Tinker Hatfield created the Air Max 93 shoe as an artistic celebration of Air technology. The first Air Max product to employ a top line bootie construction technique to improve comfort and fit, while a newly developed heel Air unit made its debut. The blow molded cushioning unit was visible around the entire heel would be affectionately dubbed �the bubble. The prominent �bubble� reflected a refined yet provocative line of thought in Nike technology, making Air truly king.
Nike Air   3 Decades of Cushioning

Air Max 95′

Legendary designer Sergio Lozano had his share of negative feedback during development of what, for some, has come to be called �the Air Max.� The shoe was a breakthrough for Nike on all fronts, from the functional layered construction technique on the upper to the black midsole. The 95′ also presented the inaugural debut of Forefoot Air in a brilliant neon green made ever more attractive by contrast with the unheard of black midsole. Compartmentalized air with varying PSI units in the heel made the shoe an exceptional ride as the super confident Nike Air Max designers placed a quiet Swoosh near the ankle, letting the shoe�s beauty speak for itself.
Nike Air   3 Decades of Cushioning

Air Max 97′

The Air Max 97′ was designed by Christian Tresser and represented yet another groundbreaking moment in Air technology with an Air sole unit running the length of the entire shoe. Though it still incorporated a layer of polyurethane foam, it offered runners sport-specific crash padding to provide more durable heel-to-toe cushioning. This was the first Air Sole developed specifically for running, harkening back to Nike�s inception as a company on the frontier of high performance footwear for runners.
Nike Air   3 Decades of Cushioning

Air Max 03′
Eight years after reinventing what a running shoe could look like, designer Sergio Lozano did it again. He retained all the best features of the Air Max lineage and incorporated a monochromatic approach void of any extraneous features. The Air Sole unit was lower to the ground allowing a greater degree of flexibility than previously believed achievable and was paired yet again with a full length mattress of Air, forever elevating the way we play.
Nike Air   3 Decades of Cushioning

Air Max 360
Touted as the last chapter of Air Max Volume 1, designer Martin Lotti has incorporated a full length Air Sole unit giving the Nike its first ever completely foamless midsole. A close study of the upper pattern pieces reveals design cues taken from the bottom rand of the original Air Max shoe upper.
Nike Air   3 Decades of Cushioning

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