April 15, 2010 BY John Kim
Nike’s firm foundation is built upon one of innovative thinking, and it’s no wonder that Nike’s headquarters in Beaverton, OR houses a special palace called the Innovation Kitchen. One recipe that was experimented with was the concept of “tattooing” a shoe; tattoos provide an artistic touch along with a sense of individuality and commitment, so Mark Smith began the Laser Project to bring that culture into shoes. Smith has had a hand in a number of Nike and Air Jordan classics; he played an integral role in the conception of Air Jordans IX through XV, as well as the special lasering print on the Air Jordan XX. Lasering a shoe is an immensely exacting process, using special materials, finite drawing, and some state-of-the-art machinery found only in Research & Development labs. A one-piece construction of the Air Force 1 was chosen by Smith as part of the Laser Project simply due to its generous amount of surface area; the entire shoe served as a broad canvas, with the outer shoe featuring a tribalesque detail and the toe box and rear heel housing a fine lasering measured by fragments of millimeters.
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