designboom interview: NIKE's dylan raasch talks perfect proportions and AIR MAX optimism

designboom interview: NIKE's dylan raasch talks perfect proportions and AIR MAX optimism

the 270 is NIKE’s first ever, 100% lifestyle AIR MAX; its heel — 32 freaking mm tall — contains an enormous degree of heel volume displacement, way beyond that of the 1987 air safari, or the max thea, or any other predecessors. they’re so large that some have described the 270s as comfy trampolines, and yet, the shoe design nearly turned out even bigger — say what? designboom interviewed NIKE AIR MAX creative director dylan raasch. dylan had nothing but passionate things to say about the newest member of his AIR MAX fam; he even suggests that the playful design, in certain circumstances, could be a symbol of hope.

nike dylan raasch
the name ‘270’ refers to 270 degrees of visibility in the air unit
all images courtesy of NIKE



designboom: what kind of lifestyle was the AIR MAX 270 designed to improve?


dylan raasch: someone who is on their feet all day and always on the move. before we started on the design we made the decision to innovate around comfort as opposed to performance, which is where we begin with our athletes. this meant not looking at how you get from point a to point b the fastest, but how you maintain comfort when the trip between point a and point b could take all day.


DB: what is its most innovative aspect?


DR: for us, it was all about how you get the biggest draw on air heel displacement so you can get the most impact absorption in every step. we were at the limitation of height, but we engineered the draw in the cavitation to pull another 5mm, which in terms of air units is huge. from there, we built a system that offered the best transition of comfort through the entire shoe, heel-to-toe.

nike dylan raasch
the unit was designed with the same rigor as sport performance, but for the demands of all-day wear



DB: what is your personal favorite little detail?


DR: I personally love how the heel clip and 270 air unit come together on the heel of the shoe. it looks like nothing I have ever seen before and has such a naturally beautiful shape.


DB: what was the hardest artistic compromise the team had to make in order to engineer the shoe?


DR: initially, we wanted to create a unit that was much bigger! our talented team of engineers developed some test air units that went beyond the final production height, but stability became an issue and we had to make a comprise that gave us a balance of stability and cushioning that feel right in the sweet spot. the bigger unit looked cool but it actually didn’t feel as right. but hey, that gives us something to continue to work towards.

nike dylan raasch
the air unit is expected to be available in a variety of colors, although, the pink alone is pretty great



DB: is there a pleasantly surprising aspect of the shoe that users may only discover after wearing it in?


DR: once you walk in the shoes you will begin to realize the difference between performance and comfort. we received a lot of feedback from product testers that the AIR MAX 270 provides a trampoline-like effect that was a new sensation for all of them. it really opened up the door to what sensations comfort innovation could bring to the table.


DB: as this lifestyle shoe evolves and changes, what design feature will remain most constant?


DR: the air unit. I think we pushed the boundaries with the AIR MAX 270 boasting the tallest air unit to date and our obsession with perfect proportions will allow us to continue to design around it for years to come. air as an innovation platform has been a constant presence in NIKE products since 1982 and with our recent innovations in vapormax and the 270, we are beginning to rethink what the possibilities of air could be.

nike dylan raasch
dylan raasch is the creative director for NIKE AIR MAX



DB: if 2,000 years from now — after an apocalyptic fall-out and the reset of democracy — a leading professor of science excavated a NIKE AIR MAX 270, how would he describe 2018-society to his students, based on the shoe?


DR: if a pair of AIR MAX 270s were unearthed 2,000 years from now, I hope they would see something that represented a portion of society that was optimistically hopeful. I can only imagine what an apocalyptic landscape would look like but finding something that was playful and fun, yet so difficult to make, would show that at some point during such a dramatic shift there were a lot of people working together to help make life more enjoyable for others.

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