Madonna, Beyonce, Prince... Tinker. There are few people that can go by just one name, but Nike's most famous shoe designer definitely can. Tinker Hatfield started at Nike in 1981 as an architect, before moving into shoe design in 1985. He revolutionised footwear with the Air Max 1's Visible Air, and hasn't slowed since. A true artist, Tinker finds inspiration in the strangest places – here are some of our favourite Tinker-designed shoes and their inspiration sources.
Five of Tinker Hatfield's Best Ideas and Where They Came From
Date: April 30 2018
By: Cesca Benson
Air Max 1 (1987)
Tinker Hatfield came to Nike as an architect, and so it comes as no surprise that his pioneering Air Max 1 design was inspired by a particularly eye-catching building. The Centre Pompidou in Paris stands out like a gloriously sore thumb against traditional Parisian architecture, wearing its insides on its outside. It was the Centre Pompidou's exposed external stairways and pillar-like air-conditioning units that prompted Tinker to carve a hole in the AM1's midsole, and allow the world to peek through to the sneaker's Air technology.
Air Safari (1987)
The Air Safari was designed to bring upmarket design to the masses, having been inspired by an ostrich-leather couch Hatfield saw in a ritzy furniture store. After Tinker was thrown out of the store by a snooty sales assistant, he designed the shoe to break the upper-class monopoly on luxury. The result was the ‘Safari’ print, one of Nike's most enduring patterns.
The idea for the Huarache came to Tinker while he was water-skiing. Having just wiped out, he was bobbing in the water looking at his neoprene ski booties and noticed how they stretched to fit any shaped ankle. Hitting the drawing board, Hatfield designed a form-fitting neoprene upper, giving it a sturdier exoskeleton for support. The Hua was born.
Air Jordan 5 (1990)
Tinker looked to the skies when it came time to design Jordan's fifth signature model. While it was constructed using elements of the Jordan 3 and 4, its aggressive, jagged midsole design was inspired by the shark teeth painted on World War II fighter jets.
Air Jordan 14 (1998)
By the time the Jordan 14 rolled around in 1998, Tinker was looking off-court for inspiration. He dug into Jordan's love of motorsports for the 14, and its Ferrari inspiration is obvious in its smooth lines, luxe panelling and shiny black upper. Oh and then there was also the Prancing Horse-esque Jumpman badge driving the connection home.
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