ON at engadin art talks (E.A.T.)


a running shoe brand that was born from garden hose experiments but now counts tennis superstar roger federer as a co-owner and collaborator. this is the story of ON, a swiss company founded by six-time ironman champion olivier bernhard and his friends david allemann and caspar coppetti with one simple mission—to revolutionize the sensation of running. 


just over a decade since the first ON prototype in 2010, the company has returned to where it all began to participate in the 12th edition of engadin art talks (E.A.T.) in switzerland’s stunning engadin valley. during the weekend-long event held from january 28 to 30, ON presented ‘art walks’, offering participants test walks of the shoes. david allemann was also in conversation with artist pamela rosenkranz and E.A.T. curator hans ulrich obrist. during the conversation, allemann gave insight into the ON brand, including the relationship between mind and matter, the ON mountain hut, and the company’s new subscription program to make sure its products never end up in landfill.

igniting the human spirit through movement: running brand ON at engadin art talks 2022
image courtesy of ON



how it all began


when olivier bernhard retired from professional competition, he decided to devote his time to creating the ultimate running shoe. after making a quite primitive prototype with a cut-up garden hose, he asked his friends david allemann and caspar coppetti to try the shoe. allemann and coppetti saw the potential of the design and the three men began building the first ON business plan while hiking in engadin. in january 2010, the company was officially founded.


from the initial hosepipe prototype, the ON team developed their innovative CloudTec® technology, creating multi-directional cushioned soles for soft landings and explosive take-offs. ETH zurich confirmed the effectiveness of the technology in a 2011 study that demonstrated test runners wearing ON shoes ran at significantly lower pulse rates and lower blood lactate levels.

igniting the human spirit through movement: running brand ON at engadin art talks 2022
ON co-founders (from l-r) caspar coppetti, david allemann, olivier bernhard



as well as developing this impressive, research-backed technology, ON is keen to reinforce the simple yet incomparable impact exercising outdoors has on our wellbeing. allemann elaborated on the ON philosophy at engadin art talks,‘for us at ON, our mission is to ignite human spirit through movement, because we feel that when you move, not only something happens to your body, but something happens to your mind. the human body, of course, is a spectacular thing, but probably an even bigger force on our planet is the human spirit.’


‘when you go on a run, when you hike, even if you just kind of feel very bad but decide to go outside and move, you’re never gonna regret it, you always come home a little bit inspired; things open up, you have new ideas. in that sense, mind and matter are also related because movement, and igniting that in the spirit, we feel, are very much intertwined. and so, I invite you to the on the walk today and I hope that it ignites the spirit in this beautiful engadin valley as well.’

igniting the human spirit through movement: running brand ON at engadin art talks 2022
‘for us at ON, our mission is to ignite human spirit through movement’ — david allemann



the ON mountain hut


in 2019, ON celebrated its origins by erecting a reflective mountain hut in an area of engadin/bergell in switzerland, situated between piz lunghin mountain and lunghin pass. the cabin is a symbol of ON’s love for the alps and the brand’s commitment to innovative design. 


‘this hut becomes almost a beacon of the human spirit, where you then can rest and stay overnight,’ added allemann.


the hut is designed to accommodate two people after a day’s hiking. it’s completely self-sufficient and powered by energy from solar panels. the ON mountain hut is constructed from sustainable materials in keeping with the alpine setting. the reflective metal cladding outside gives way to warm wooden interiors with picture-perfect mountain views.

igniting the human spirit through movement: running brand ON at engadin art talks 2022
the ON mountain hut celebrates the company’s origins




‘the mountains are not just our playground, they are our home as well so it’s impossible to think about being from the swiss alps without taking nature and sustainability into the equation as well,’ continued allemann during the weekend-long art event.‘we’ve worked very hard over the last five years to bring a very high degree of recycled materials into our shoes and also in our clothing line.’


not content with just incorporating recycled materials into its products, ON has also initiated a shoe subscription service where users will return running shoes after use to make sure they never end up in landfill ‘or just in your cupboard’  as allemann commented. ‘all these 1000s of people have subscribed to that service to never own a shoe and we’re very excited to find out how that works.’

igniting the human spirit through movement: running brand ON at engadin art talks 2022
ON’s new shoe subscription service aims to tackle waste



On x pamela rosenkranz


as well as mountain-inspired innovation and circularity, during this conversation at engadin art talks allemann also spoke about ON’s collaborations with creatives including swiss artist pamela rosenkranz. in a 2021 work titled ‘enlaced’, rosenkranz applied different scents and colors to ON shoelaces. during an event at art basel co-hosted by ON, karma international and novembre, guests received a pair of the special shoelaces, one for the left shoe, one for the right shoe.


‘what you have to know about ON is that ON was created at the intersection of innovation but also design, creativity and sustainability. and so for us, creating a product, creating a shoe is not a linear process but it also is a combination of people, scientists, biomechanics, but there also designers, artists, and ultimately also what can we do towards the circular economy. at ON we have over 200 creatives, so we do every creative work in-house. and of course, then partnering with outside artists to bring them into the process is a fantastic opportunity,’ said allemann about the collaboration with rosenkranz.


watch the full conversation with david allemann, pamela rosenkranz and hans ulrich obrist from engadin art talks (E.A.T.) 2022 in the video at the top of the page.

igniting the human spirit through movement: running brand ON at engadin art talks 2022


E.A.T. is internationally recognized for bringing together leading artists, architects, writers, scientists and disruptive thinkers from around the world. its mission is to provide an interdisciplinary platform for a global dialogue on the arts and different creative fields. internationally recognized for its line-up of leading artists, architects, writers, scientists, and disruptive minds from all over the world, E.A.T. has invited so far more than 140 speakers that have presented their ideas and visions on challenging social relevant themes since its inception in 2010. E.A.T. was founded by cristina bechtler together with hans ulrich obrist.