Nike Goes Offline: In Conversation with Drew Little & Michael Ford

END. sits down with the Nike design team to talk rest, recovery, and switching off.

Internationally renowned for their iconic 'just do it' messaging, Nike's dedication to empowering athletes to achieve peak performance has been the cornerstone of the brand philosophy since day one. But peak performance doesn't end when the final whistle blows; the need for appropriate rest and recovery is a fundamental aspect of any athlete's endurance routine. Enter: Nike Offline.

Honing in on a quieter side of the athletic experience, we sit down with Global Product Manager for Nike's NSW line, Michael Ford, and footwear designer, Drew Little, to delve deeper into the design decisions and product ideologies defining the Swoosh's new Offline initiative.

Rest and recovery have always been fundamental aspects of the athletic experience - why did now feel like the right time for to put these themes centre stage?

Rest and recovery has always been an important aspect of daily life, not just in sports. In the world today there’s always the need to keep up, always be on and connected. So it’s important to take a break in order to reset mentally. We’ve always understood this with in sport and the balance between highly active, with the need for rest to perform better. 

Has the ‘always on’ reality we now live created a need to provide a space for rest and recovery from everyday life?

From all the people we’ve spoken to over the past 2 years, we heard the need for a ‘switch off’. We understand people aren’t always wearing sneakers throughout the day and that a lot of people’s rotation is made up of many different silhouettes - slides included as a style decision as well as a functional and practical choice. We know footwear choices can influence mindset, so we wanted to take it a step further and keep the wearer present with the themes of rest and recovery.

Do you think we’ve got to a place where life itself feels like a competition; a pursuit that tests the endurance of our bodies and our minds?

‘The competition’ could be our desire to be our best selves. Our team aspired to create footwear to promote balance, be present, and encourage connection to real life. Offline is about shifting that focus from the outside world to the inside. At Nike, we say “If you have a body, you’re an athlete” – with this ethos, we want everyone to perform at their best - and rest is a key component.

What was the design intention for Offline?

From a design perspective, the goal was to communicate the ultimate experience in comfort in the most holistic way possible. We envisioned the first reaction to the product being “that looks comfortable.” Offline includes two unique sensory drop-in midsoles, interchangeable based on mood and overall feeling. The midsoles have strategically placed nubs that offer different levels of a massage-like experience. Nike’s DNA is foundational in Offline – solving problems through innovation, function and style.

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