It was 10 years ago when Nike released the ZVEZDOCHKA (named after a Russian space dog launched into orbit aboard Sputnik 10 in 1961), a shoe inspired by Russian cosmonauts, shaped by the supposed demands of a zero-gravity environment. While inspired by yesterday’s space race, designer Marc Newson worked closely with Nike to create a futuristic modular shoe of tomorrow – sharing some of the aesthetic and functional hallmarks of Japanese jika-tabi footwear and streamlined shape of cycling shoes – wrapping an interlocking Nike Zoom Air unit outsole, inner sleeve, and insole all within a flexible injection-molded thermo-polyurethane shell cage system. The resulting design looks like something pulled straight out of a 3D printer of today, but in fact was manufactured back in 2004, a time when additive printing technology was still on the horizon for consumer production.
Even a decade later, the ZVEZDOCHKA looks remarkably contemporary…perhaps still too ahead of its time (yet one which undoubtedly opened the doors for following future material and manufacturing exploration, such as Nike’s popular seamless, single-layer upper technology, Flyknit). Nevertheless, Nike plans to honor Marc Newson’s revolutionary “sneaker” with all five original colors reissued and re-released via nike.com/nikelab and in select NikeLab locations.
Often when you enter into a project, you don’t know what you’ve learned until you start the next one. For the ZVEZDOCHKA, we knew we had broken new ground: a shoe with four interchangeable parts. It was such a simplified process and led to new exploration in how products are made and the potential for customization. It’s a great example of how a functional innovation helps drive a completely new aesthetic. – Mark Parker, President and CEO of NIKE