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Tin&Ed Mine the Rich History of Nike's Air Force 1

Date: November 22 2018

By: Cesca Benson

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The work of powerhouse creative outfit Tin&Ed is hard to pin down. One moment they’re moulding concrete, the next they’re creating video projections. But even though their mediums vary, each mind-bending piece shares a similar goal: to satisfy the pair’s curiosity.

With that in mind, it was an unmissable opportunity for them to team up with Nike to explore the heritage and perennial appeal of the Air Force 1. Not only does the classic silhouette provide the perfect canvas for creative capers, it also offers decades of history for inspiration.   

To celebrate Battle Force, Nike’s streetball symposium, the duo have taken the Air Force 1 in a new direction with signature panache. We chatted with them about their design process and their larger-than-life piece.

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Hey guys! First off, your work is incredible. Tell us about the foundations. Where did this journey begin? How did you start working together?
Thank you! We met in our first year of design school! We both volunteered to redesign a punk rock magazine during the summer break, and we’ve been friends and worked together ever since. 

Tin&Ed officially started when we finished university; everything has been organic and unplanned.

Sounds like it was meant to be! Do you both have similar visions for your work, or is it more of an ‘opposites attract’ kind of situation?
We have a shared intention for what we want to create — a unified vision. However, our approach, skill sets and personalities are a little more Yin and Yang, different but complementary.

You barely leave a stone unturned in terms of your mediums. How do you decide what direction to take?
There are still so many stones out there we want to turn over! Curiosity is something that we both share, we’re really interested in the world around us, how everything is connected and also discovering new ways to communicate. This curiosity has led us to do all sorts of crazy projects, and we’re excited to continue this in the future. Our curiosity will continue to guide our direction.

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So you share a lot of the same motivations. But when it comes to the design process, do you prefer to work together throughout, or do you do your own thing and come together in the final stages?
We always work together on everything. From beginning to end. We might split up the management and production of a project, but conceptually and creatively our projects are completely collaborative.

What a harmonious relationship! How do you ‘put in the work’ as artists?
We ‘put in the work’ because we are literally working all the time; ideas can come at anytime and anyplace, night and day. That being said, our studio is all about blurring the boundaries between work and play, so even though we’re working all the time, we’re also playing all the time as well.

Sounds like you have a lot of fun, but there must be hurdles sometimes. What are some of the challenges you face and how do you best overcome these?
We’ve recently set up shop in New York, and working on projects between Melbourne and New York can be a challenge. But technology has definitely helped us overcome the challenges of working on projects on different sides of the world.

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What is your connection to the Air Force 1?
You don’t have to be good at basketball to appreciate the culture around it and, for us, the Air Force 1 is interesting because it holds a different meaning and relevance to everyone. We also love the AF-1 from a design point of view, it’s such a pure and simple form but also so iconic and recognisable — it’s almost cartoon-like.

Many Nike designers refer to the AF-1 as the white t-shirt of the shoe world. It’s been re-created and re-iterated by so many creatives in its time. What is it about the AF-1 that makes it such a strong blank canvas to work with?
The value of an object is in the meaning that we give it. 

Some objects, for whatever reason, can connect with people across time and culture. This is what the AF-1 has done and continues to do. The essence of this shoe has not physically changed, but what it means to people has and will continue to do so. It reflects the culture back at us, and because of this it will forever be relevant.

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With so much history, the AF-1 must have been great to work with. Tell us how you went about creating your piece for Battle Force?
Right now we are really interested in the convergence of digital and physical spaces and mediums. For this project we were super excited to be able to create a physical installation that we could use as a canvas for live projections, bringing together these physical and digital worlds. Similar to the AF-1, our physical installation is like a blank canvas; the physical forms for the installation are inspired by the forms from the AF-1. The installation is brought to life with more layers of meaning through the projections.

What message are you wanting to communicate with this piece?
Our installation is a playful exploration of the invisible forces that connect us all. Some of these forces are physical, like gravity, whilst others are metaphysical or cultural.

And finally, if you guys had to choose one, what would it be: the Triple White or Triple Black Air Force 1?
Tin: Triple Black!
Ed: Triple White!

To get up-close and personal with Tin&Ed's Air Force 1 installation, hit up Battle Force on November 25. Register here to lock down your spot.

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