Skip the run and try footwear headgear instead

Hey, are those shoes on your head? A recent entry to the Nike78 design challenge rethinks a new pair of Nikes as a neuron-stimulating footwear-helmet.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
Leslie Katz led a team that explored the intersection of tech and culture, plus all manner of awe-inspiring science, from space to AI and archaeology. When she's not smithing words, she's probably playing online word games, tending to her garden or referring to herself in the third person.
  • Third place film critic, 2021 LA Press Club National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards
Leslie Katz
2 min read
Wieden + Kennedy London

Some people look at a pair of Nikes and picture a jog. Others look at the shoes and see each section of the sole as a lobe of the human brain. Put the designers at Wieden + Kennedy London in the latter category.

A team from the design firm made the shoe-brain connection when asked to participate in Nike78, a challenge that tasked designers with rethinking a pair of new Nikes.

Wieden + Kennedy got the Nike Free -- a shoe inspired by athletes who train barefoot to make their feet stronger -- and the designers looked at the segmented soles and saw gray matter. Nike Free Your Mind was born.

"The nonpatented headgear stimulates rapid neuron response, triggering the sensation of a fully blown run, but from the comfort of your own couch," reads the Wieden + Kennedy product page on the Nike78 site. "Avoid rainy days, stray dogs, and mild breathlessness with this state-of-the-art invention."

Nike Free Your Mind
These shoes will really get you ahead in life. Wieden + Kennedy London

The fellas who dreamed up Nike Free Your Mind -- Guy Featherstone, Stuart Harkness, Dominic Tunon, and Nic Owen -- clearly aimed for the ridiculous with their design, although they do intend to make a statement on the link between sports and mental well-being.

"It's meant to be fun but also to make us think about the power of sport in making us feel good," they say. "There are no shortcuts."

Nike78 has covered lots of ground since we last checked in on the project a little over two years ago. Lots of crazy new designs have been submitted (think Nikes with flippers and Nikes shaped like wooden clogs and pigeons). And the redesigned Nike 78 Web site now serves as a permanent online exhibition for the project.

Amazingly, Nike Free Your Mind isn't the only Nike78 design to envision footwear headwear, as you might recall the spooky "Silence of the Lambs"-style face mask we told you about awhile back. Here at Crave, we're apparently very open-minded when it comes to shoes -- even if they end up on our head.