Eighty-eight days before the opening ceremony of the Olympics XXIV (on 8 August 2008) Nike filled a warehouse space in Beijing's up and coming 798 Arts District with their 100 most innovative accomplishments and I was fortunate enough to be one of the first to see it. A gallery-like exhibit providing insight into the inspiration behind some of the game-changing footwear and apparel, it's a clear reminder why Nike is truly one of the best at harnessing design to improve athlete performance.
The space itself is built to look like stacks of iconic orange Nike shoe boxes, some holding original prototypes and signature models. Highlights include Michael Johnson's original gold track shoes, a prototype of Ronaldo's Mercurial Vapor and various Tinker Hatfield prototypes that rarely see the light of day. Upon entering the space, visitors are greeted with an iPod Touch preloaded with 100 tracks highlighting a short explanation for each innovation. Interactive displays, rotating and shifting images on the ceilings and a menagerie of hard to find gems had people salivating. See more images after the jump.
While there are those who might think Nike is only about air-cushioned soles, the visual timeline proving their tireless energy and consistent improvements and inventions all in one place is an impressive sight to see. For those who jock Nike for the more fashionable limited-editions, the brand, its reps and the exhibit are all invariably on message, touting the mantra that form follows function with sport very much still at the core of the brand.
Nike 706 will be left up for a month and will host similar exhibitions during the Olympics. If you're lucky enough to attend the Olympic Games this fall, take a minute and visit this Nike shrine.