I was in Oregon a few months back, and walking around Nike's WHQ, saw Sandy Bodecker wearing a bright yellow pair of shoes, I didn't recognise, they looked a little like a Presto, and a little like a Zvezdockha, with a Free sole unit, having just seen 3 of my favourite Nike shoes all in one, I immediatley had a new favourite. The Air Rejunen8 is a favourite at Nike too, the product of their talented team in the Innovation kitchen. We take a closer look at the new shoe, launching this month, with a big splash to tke place at this years Olympics. AIR REJUVEN8 “A hard day of training should be followed by a day of easy training.” —Bill Bowerman Designed with an intense focus on comfort and breathability, Nike launches the Air Rejuven8, an innovation that rejuvenates the foot during an athletes day off the field. Recovery There are three phases to an athlete’s competition cycle – training, competition and recovery. Athletes don’t stop being competitors when they step off the field of play. Recovery and training between contests are just as critical as the competition itself — maybe even more so. All three phases work together to create a more efficient and healthy athlete. Designed with an intense focus on comfort and breathability, the Air Rejuven8 is specifically geared to be incorporated into an athlete’s days off the field to rejuvenate, repair, rebuild, refresh and restore the foot. Inspired by direct insight that the athlete’s body experiences high wear and tear from training and competition, the soothing aspect of the Air Rejuven8, according to testers, creates an almost a complete lack of sensation on the foot—in a good way. Inspiration Design at NIKE follows a problem solving process and inspiration to solve the needs of an athlete can come from anywhere. At a Thanksgiving dinner in 1999, a NIKE innovation leader’s seven-year-old son took the protective fruit net off an Asian pear and placed it around his bare foot. It was a playful gesture that immediately sparked the imagination of NIKE’s design team, spawning the first Air Rejuven8 prototype—built from the very same netting and hot-glued to a last. What intrigued designers about the structure was the way the material worked in harmony with the foot’s shape, as well as its graphic look. But, at the time, the technology required to make the Air Rejuven8 was too complex and its various prototypes ended up at the bottom of a drawer for nearly five years, out of sight, but not out of mind. Innovation In 2003, NIKE innovation designer Pam Greene was studying the comfort aspects of a shoe, important foundation work for delivering recovery benefits to the feet of weary athletes. Greene, who was working in Nike’s Innovation Kitchen, Nike’s inner center of invention and ingenuity, immediately saw potential in the netting design, working out a tangible plan for the shoe’s construction. After six months researching materials and geometries for the net structure, Pam, a specialist in designing comfort footwear, crafted the shoe into a prototype phase that showed a unique ability to assist recovery and enable restorative running. After an additional year of testing and refinement by the Kitchen team, the Air Rejuven8 concept was ready to see the light of day. The Air Rejuven8, the result of Nike’s design team Design at Nike is also the result of a collaborative effort, and the Innovation Kitchen is the heart of it all. Bob Mervar, Nike’s Outdoor Design Director formed a good duo with the Kitchen’s Greene and together they developed and created what would become the right answer. Mervar, who had experience building many of the ancestors to the Air Rejuven8— including the Presto—fine-tuned the in-line design into a product that instantly became iconic. The key innovation of the Air Rejuven8 is its injection-molded exterior cage. Made from one shot of TPU polymer, the network of diamond-shaped “struts” is engineered and aligned to fit around the foot to be both supportive and non-restrictive. The spacing, orientation, and thickness of each strut adds support and flex only where it is needed, allowing the use of less material in the upper. The strength-to-flex characteristic of the diamond’s geometry gives the structure its minimal, yet highly functional quality. The entire network conforms dynamically to the changing shape of the athlete’s foot in motion and at rest, while the openness of the network allows for airflow, breathability, and the movement of moisture away from skin needed in comfort footwear. Highly prioritized in athletic footwear, comfort, breathability and lightweight support are integrated into the Air Rejuven8 with a knit sandwich-mesh inner bootie and an 8mm sockliner, giving runners the additional snugness, stability, and insole cushioning necessary if they use the shoe for light running. Made of resilient EVA foam and housing a heel air packet, this is among the thickest, softest sockliners NIKE offers. Additionally, the seamless bootie also allows the footwear to be worn without socks for better airflow. Air Rejuven8 also incorporates the same Natural Motion tooling used in the NIKE Free, allowing the outsole to flex organically with the upper and foot. Pads made from Duralon, NIKE’s softest rubber, create a modified waffle sole traction system that is optimally natural footbed alignment for running. Nike Air in the heel provides cushioning that deflects upon the impact of heel strike, transferring energy through the runners gait and toe-off. The protective toecap originally developed for the Presto shields the toe, allowing for complete pliability in the rest of the forefoot. Nike’s heritage of 35 years of innovation “The great thing about innovating at NIKE is that we have iconic heritage products to draw from,” says Pam Greene. With help from the Innovation Kitchen team, and drawing from the experience of designers like Bob Mervar, who designed the Presto; Tinker Hatfield, creator of the Air Huarache; Sean McDowell, who brought the Air Kukini to the triathlon world; and Bruce Kilgore who invented the Sock Racer; Pam built upon their foundation concepts and pushed them to the next level of rejuvenating comfort and aesthetic functionality. The Zvezdockha, Nike’s innovation project with designer Marc Newson, introduced the idea of modularity to the NIKE family, and the Air Rejuven8 makes it accessible from a consumer and athletic standpoint. The Air Rejuven8 is the latest evolution and fusion of the aforementioned shoes in the NIKE family tree, combining great fit, breathability, and support in a seriously fun way that only Nike can deliver. Mens Air Rejuven8 Womens Air Rejuven8 Release The Air Rejuven8 hits shelves in April 2008, but its real coming out party will take place on 08-08-08 when Olympic athletes come together under one sky, from all corners of the globe, to compete. The athletes will wear them as part of their Medal Stand outfits, as well as in the Olympic Village at the Beijing Summer Games, looking good, as well as enjoying the technology that has made this NIKE’s recovery shoe.
Posted April 8, 2008