Nike Drops a Hands-Free Snap-On Shoe, and Other News

Our daily look at the world through the lens of design.

Nike’s new Flyease Go snap-on shoe

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Nike unveils innovative hands-free, snap-on shoes for people who struggle with laces. 

Nike has unveiled a new hands-free, snap-on design for people who struggle with tying laces, whether it be a pregnant woman or an older adult suffering from arthritis. The follow-up to the brand’s Flyease shoe, released in 2015, the Flyease Go features a bistable hinge on the outsole that tilts the shoes at around a 30-degree angle, making it easy for a foot to slide in and the hinge to snap shut. Nike also outfitted the shoe with a platform on the back, called the “kickstand heel,” for the tried-and-true method of using the toes on your opposite foot to take it off. 

“We often listen to the extreme athletes to bring us these benefits. We’ve looked at LeBron as an extreme athlete. If we can design for him, we can solve for the high school basketball player,” says Sarah Reinertsen, senior director of Nike Ease. “What I love about this shoe in particular is we listened to the extreme needs of [people with specific limitations]. But with this solution we feel like it’s a universal proposition.”

Power source of the future? A remote Tasmanian island is turning to wave energy. 

Next month, a remote Tasmanian island with a population of 1,700 will start receiving power from wave energy. Spearheaded by the Australian company Wave Swell Energy, the project will serve as a test case for widespread future use. The process, co-founder Tom Denniss says, resembles a whale’s breathing. “It’s very much like an artificial blowhole. There’s a big underwater chamber that’s open out the front, so the water is forced into the chamber. It pushes that air back and forth. The movement of air that spins the turbine and produces electricity.” A study by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation projects that wave energy could potentially cover 11 percent of the country’s energy needs by the 2050s.

Stan Herd’s earthwork of John Lewis in Atlanta

An Atlanta park is playing host to an earthwork portrait of late civil rights icon John Lewis.

The artist and progressive activist Stan Herd has turned a portion of Atlanta’s Freedom Park into a portrait of the late congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis. The portrait, which makes use of grass, earth, and other natural materials, sits a stone’s throw from the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. “In general, I hope to bring attention to land, and the people who work the land, who value the landscape and Mother Earth,” Herd told Atlanta’s Saporta Report. “I also have been involved, all my life, in lending art to causes and issues and thoughts and opinions that have changed the world.” After serving in the House for 33 years and dedicating his career to securing and protecting voting rights, Lewis died this past July of pancreatic cancer. The portrait is the latest in Herd’s politically fueled earthworks—he’s created similar works of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on a Kansas farm while both politicians were campaigning.

The street artist Don Leicht, also known as the Original Space Invader, dies at 74.

The pioneering Bronx street artist Don Leicht, also known as the Original Space Invader, died on January 22. Leicht became a key member of the first generation of New York City street artists in the 1970s, rising to prominence for his stencil works and brightly colored metal, plastic, and cardboard cutouts that focused on popular video games. Many of his works also carried ideological messages about politics, gentrification, race, class, and advertising. His ongoing Space Invaders project, which began in 1982, placed the character of Nishikado’s eponymous arcade game in the context of social commentary. He went on to spray paint the character all across New York in the ensuing decades, alongside indoor and outdoor work made with longtime collaborator John Felkner. After George Floyd’s murder this past summer, the duo reprised Hymn (1987), which was created in response to the death of Michael Griffith, a Black man from Brooklyn who was chased into traffic by a group of white youths.

666 Fifth Avenue (now 660 Fifth Avenue) in Manhattan

666 Fifth Avenue officially changed its address to 660 Fifth Avenue.

666 Fifth Avenue, a commercial high-rise in Midtown Manhattan, has traded in its totally metal address for a slightly more palatable one. Brookfield Properties, which owns and operates the building, is leaving its troubles behind with a less conspicuous and legal address change that will eliminate the infamous 666 qualifier. 660 Fifth will open after an extensive renovation, spearheaded by Kohn Pedersen Fox, that’s expected to cost $400 million and is slated for completion sometime in 2022.

The Netherlands is leading the way in Europe’s efforts to repatriate stolen artifacts. 

The Dutch government has approved a plan to repatriate artifacts taken from former colonies, instating recommendations by an advisory commission that called for the “recognition that an injustice was done to the local populations of former colonial territories when cultural objects were taken against their will.” The committee, helmed by Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You, recommended that museums should not only consider claims for items known to have been looted, but also requests the return of those with no full provenance records—this is true especially in cases where objects have historical, cultural, and/or religious importance to their source country. Although the Dutch government resigned en masse on January 15 in response to a scandal over tax inspectors who unjustly penalized thousands of families, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his cabinet will remain in office in a caretaker capacity until general elections in March. Ingrid van Engelshoven, the minister of education, culture, and science, announced the adoption of the committee’s report on January 29. “We must treat colonial collections with great sensitivity,” said van Engelshoven. “There is no place in the Dutch State Collection for cultural heritage objects that were acquired through theft.”

A flooded road in Pekalongan, Indonesia

Today’s attractive distractions:

Floods at an ink factory leave an Indonesian village submerged in red water.

Peek inside Louis Vuitton’s first-ever restaurant and cafe at its Osaka maison.

The ultra-wealthy are forgoing family histories for their very own documentaries.

Design Within Reach toasts the winners of this year’s Champagne Chair Contest.

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