artist ryan gander’s flyknit puzzle box explores the underlying propositions of NIKE flyknit. the walnut, cherry, elm, and birch wood references the traditional japanese puzzle box of the edo period, the fibonacci sequence and of course NIKE’s flyknit technology.


the promotional gift was conceived as a way to further the conversation about flyknit design, art and craftsmanship with lucky recipients and only a small amount of puzzle boxes have been created. those who receive the box have to go through a sequence of five steps to solve the puzzle and open the box, unveiling a pair of NIKE shoes with flyknit technology.





ryan gander told designboom more about his design for the puzzlebox…





designboom: could you tell us how you became involved in the project?
ryan gander: I was invited by NIKE who partnered with jonn and will from the thing to execute the project. I’ve collaborated with the thing before and always enjoy working with them, it always turns out as a positive educational experience.



DB: what was the design brief given to you from NIKE?
RG: simply put, the brief was NIKE flyknit. NIKE were looking to ‘dimensionalize’ and reinterpret their flyknit innovation in a creative way. they sent me some shoes as a sample of the new construction method. we shared ideas, we had discussions from that point and the project progressed very organically from there. I think these projects take a certain type of artist as well as a certain type of commissioner to work. there has to exist a degree of understanding and positive compromise, sensitive egos don’t work well in when it comes to collaborations such as this.






DB: how soon did you settle upon the final solution?
RG: quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing and tests and samples, it was quite a complicated idea and so needed a bit of tinkering to get it right.



DB: please could you explain the process involved in making the puzzle box?
RG: when NIKE first sent a flyknit sneaker to the studio it felt like it had fallen from a very alien place, it had a quality of something revolutionary, something I’d never seen before. from there it was an exercise of conceptual elimination. I had a vast list of ideas and interests I wanted to explore or thought were interesting that would elevate the NIKE flyknit innovation and product. I then spent time narrowing it down, to its most articulate and most economical form. a sort of less is more strategy.






DB: how careful did you have to be not to create something too difficult to open?
RG: I was of the opinion the more impossible the better, I liked the idea that the end user would receive a gift they had to invest a lot of energy in to get anything in return from. I only realized how difficult it was when I received the second sample [that I’d designed – so should have known how to open] and couldn’t actually open it. then I understood the frustration inherent in it.






DB: which particular aspects of the finished piece are you happiest with?
RG: it’s users ability to adapt its usage from a flyknit shoe box to other indeterminate things, it reminds me a little of le corbusier’s wooden box – he designed as a stool. a box and a creative mind can construct endlessly versatile uses.






NIKE flyknit technology
NIKE flyknit technology stems from a proposition to create footwear that is both impressively light and incredibly strong. fueled by athlete insight and data, NIKE flyknit amplifies nature by designing specifically for the body in motion. yarns and fabric variations are micro-engineered to create featherweight, formfitting, and virtually seamless uppers. NIKE flyknit reduces waste because the one-piece upper does not use the multiple materials and material cuts employed in traditional performance footwear.


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ryan gander
ryan gander is an internationally acclaimed conceptual and visual artist from england. he specializes in sculpture and installation, often confronting viewers with a puzzle and challenging them to decipher its sophisticated logic. gander’s work has been exhibited in the guggenhiem museum in new york, the venice biennale, the museo tamayo, and the yokohama triennial.




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