Nike Chronicles Hybrid Evolution

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Nike "Rise of the Hybrids"
Cars aren't the only things going hybrid these days, as evidenced by the fusion of classic Nike shoe designs with the new Air Max 360 outsoles in the sneaker giant's new "One Time Only" line. Tapping into the evolutionary nature of these shoe mash-ups, Nike asked New York-based design studio HunterGatherer to create a trio of animated webfilms that reveal the line's hybrid history. "The creative brief dealt with coming up with a way to discuss hybridization, merging disparate concepts and exploring larger but related ideas," says HunterGatherer founder Todd St. John. "Evolution figures in naturally, especially as the hybridization in the story gets more purposeful. It hopefully says that hybridization (or collaboration) can create something greater than the sum of its parts."

The films' visual style itself is a hybrid of sorts, employing a stark cubism that melds Italian modernism with the simplicity of children's book illustrations to detail the explosion of new lifeforms that resulted from a mysterious galactic impact. "One of the requests from Nike was to try and expand the idea of hybridization in a culturally broad way," says St. John. "The shoes themselves are fairly high-tech in terms of their construction, so we wanted to expand beyond that aesthetic to include a lot of unexpected points of reference." Those reference points were mostly organic, as animals and plants fused into bizarre combinations which in turn took their visual cues from the shoes themselves. "We tried to have a lot of reference to the shoes in terms of colors, textures and looks," says St. John, who notes that each of these elements was done by hand before being assembled and animated digitally. "In some cases, the shoe is literally re-collaged out of the scenic elements, so we aimed to have the product really inform the visual. This is a strange visual language for a sneaker launch, but as a result, hopefully that much more resonant."

All three "Rise of the Hybrid" videos can be viewed—and downloaded, thanks to embedded HTML code that can be cut and pasted into personal blogs and MySpace profiles—at the NikeLab website.
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