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Trainers BoardEver since I can remember, I’ve had an obscure fascination with trainers.  I’m not too sure how this came about or how it developed, but over the years, my interest (and not just purely from a “fashion” point of view) has become more involved and intense.  I can vividly track events in my life, not only at the time they happened, but strangely, by the trainers I owned at the time.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that my trainers defined me, but were more of a reflection of culture and my growing interest in the design world at a precise moment in time. For instance, there was the time I undertook my first ever 5K run at the age of 9.  I was wearing a pair of red suede hi-tops by ‘Pony’.  There was the time I won the national netball championships wearing a pair of ‘Reebok Classics’ with a rather nifty silver, glittered sole.  From a cultural point of view, the trainers I owned were a reflection of the times; new materials, new inventions, new styles.  A selection of these can be seen below. 

Reading this, you may be wondering how a fascination with trainers has a link to interior design.  The thing that I have realised over the last few years is that the interest does not reflect the footwear in principle, but rather the colours, patterns and textures that can be applied.  Again you still may be searching for the interior design link; bear with me.

From Converse, Nike and Toms, to Adidas, Onitsuka Tigers (by Asics) and Paul Smith, my collection has expanded and evolved.  The turning point in this interest came about when I first saw the collaboration between Nike and Harris Tweed (hand-woven pure wool, dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland).  The application of this famous material alongside something considered as sportswear almost instantly made me re-evaluate the purpose and use of this type of footwear.  They became more formal, more adaptable and more diverse.

At the point when the collaboration between Nike and Harris Tweed was announced, the famous Scottish weavers were on the verge of shutting all industry down as the future of this product was heavily threatened by changes in style and economic doubt.  In a change of fortune, Nike stepped in and ordered 10,000 metres of tweed to be used in their first run of the limited-edition products.  The products were so successful that they were selling out before they even reached the shelves.  Thousands more metres of tweed were ordered, therefore sealing the changing fortune of Harris Tweed and their revival back into production, something which is still going strong 11 years after their first collaboration was released.


Nike’s interest in developing products in collaboration with high-end, luxury and prominent textile designers is still going strong.  Their first collection with Liberty (the famous London emporium, most commonly associated with their striking and intuitive fabrics and pattern designs) was first released in 2012.  This first collection saw quite a heavy floral base (typical of Liberty prints) being used to emphasise the collaboration.  Reflecting upon what has come since, this early collection seems quite ‘tropical’ in its presentation.


Over the last couple of years, this collaboration has seen a more refined selection of patterns being showcased with the latest collection, released in April 2014, reflecting the delicate florals of the ‘Lora’ Liberty print; a design based on the William Morris ‘Willow’ pattern (designed in 1874), ‘Annosha’, a 1930s print featuring blossom and bell flowers, and ‘Crown’, a design based on paisley block prints found in Liberty’s Merton print works from the late 19th to early 20th century.


We are beginning to see how adaptable trainers can be in terms of their materiality, but adaptability in this context doesn’t stop there.  Designers themselves are becoming more adaptable in how they work in industry, the types of projects they undertake and how new materials can help form concepts.  One of the most well-known of these adaptbale designers is Zaha Hadid. From architecture and product design, to furniture and lighting, Zaha encompasses the need for adaptable thinking and development.  This trait is characterised by her collaboration with Lacoste (below left) and later, her collaboration with Brazilian brand Melissa (below right).

These designs are typical of what we would normally associate with Hadid’s designs; organic, flexible and full of motion.


The Lacoste project protype was launched in 2009, with production following shortly after. Hadid describes the footwear as an “evolution of dynamic grids [and when worn] these expand and contract to neotiate and adapt to the body ergonomically.  In doing so, a landscape emerges, undulating and radiating as it merges seamlessly with the body” (Dezeen, 2009). 

Looking over these footwear designs, we are seeing how designers are challenging a pre-conceived idea of what a particular ‘type’ of footwear should look like.  Whether this is being creative with surface pattern and texture, to how materials and ergonomics can make for a more sustained and flexible product, it seems that although we may not instantly create the link, interior design does play a large part in the fascinating world of footwear design.

Images courtesy of:

Asos (2013) Paul Smith Stripe [Online Image]. Available from: [Accessed 13/06/14].

Boot Room (2009) Converse Red Hi-top [Online Image]. Available from: [Accessed 10/06/14].

Brand Catcher (2010) Onitsuke Tiger Ultimate 81 [Online Image]. Available from: [Accessed 10/06/14].

Dezeen (2008) Melissa Shoes [Online Image]. Available from: [Accessed 13/06/14].

Dezeen (2009) Lacoste [Online Image]. Available from: [Accessed 13/06/14].

Freshness Mag (2010) Nike Harris Tweed 1 [Online Image]. Available from: [Accessed 13/06/14].

Nike (2014) Liberty Collection 2014 [Online Image]. Available from: [Accessed 13/06/14].

Nordfield (2013) Adidas Marathon 80 [Online Image]. Available from: [Accessed 10/06/14].

Office (2012) Toms [Online Image]. Available from:,30/2787632442 [Accessed 13/06/14].

One League (2010) Nike Air Max 97 [Online Image]. Available from: [Accessed 10/06/14].

Shoe Rack (2012) Converse Navy [Online Image]. Available from: [Accessed 10/06/14].

Willow Rose (2011) Liberty 1 [Online Image]. Available from: [Accessed 10/06/14].

Oscar neimeyer converse

Zaha Hadid –melissa

Melissa shoes by Zaha Hadid Architects

Zaha Hadid – lacoste

Footwear by Zaha Hadid for Lacoste


Onitsika Tigers – zodiac

Adidas marathon 80

Converse navy

Nike air max 97

converse red hi top

liberty nike 1

liberty nike 2

liberty nike 3

liberty nike 4

Nike harris tweed 1

nike fly knit

Paul smith stripe

Onitsuka tiger red

jack Purcell


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