When it comes to combining modern technology and design elements with archival inspiration and a storied lineage, adidas are at the top of the game. From the likes of Yeezy to NMD to the Three Stripes’ contemporary EQT lineup, the Herzo folks always hit the sweet spot when balancing the classic with the contemporary.
The P.O.D.SYSTEM is the latest example of this ethos at work. First introduced in June 2018, POD represents one of adi’s most experimental executions. Looking back to 90s running technology and updating it with one of the most beloved innovations of today (adi’s universally-renowned BOOST), adidas have expertly blended the performance of a technical runner with a progressive aesthetic for today’s streets.
Podular Design Philosophy
For the P.O.D.SYSTEM everything starts with the unique three-dimensional cushioning design principal that adidas first employed back in the mid-90s. When the Herzo team went about developing the POD concept, they were inspired by the idea of unexpected combinations — a point of emphasis previously employed by the underrated Cushion 2 from the 90s EQT lineup.
When the design team was pouring over archival designs, the Cushion 2 immediately jumped out. Designed to benefit the runner, the Cushion 2’s cushioning system provided both shock absorption and stability at the point of the outsole’s impact by utilising distinct segments ready-made for the requirements of each specific area.
‘When we went through our archives, we found the Cushion 2 from 1994/1995. We loved the idea of it,’ explains P.O.D.SYSTEM designer Lena Groneck. ‘Looking back now, the shoe itself was definitely ahead of its time. The core idea of the Cushion 2 was about combining different elements and materials in the tooling to provide the best comfort and flexibility.’
With the Cushion 2’s multi-material ‘Point of Deflection’ tooling in mind, the design team came up with the idea of cutting up different soles from the adi archive and piecing the different combinations together (along with additional design elements) to create something wholly new, unexpected and unconventional — an approach that previously worked wonders with the development of the NMD and its execution of new school BOOST meets old school midsole plugs. Ultimately, Groneck and company took inspiration from the ‘Point of Deflection’ podular design philosophy and reimagined its build with a completely new intent: natural motion for the foot.
‘We found the strongest creative concepts were the ones that brought familiar elements together with new elements to form unexpected combinations,’ says Groneck. ‘The elements were great by themselves, but even greater together.’
EVA Meets Bridge Meets BOOST
So, how best to bring the podular design philosophy into the present? Since the shoe system was intended for casual wear and not performance running or training, adi knew it should have its cushiest tech in the heel to counteract repeated heel strikes by the wearer. And what’s the cushiest, most pillowy cushioning out there? BOOST, naturally.
Therefore, adi utilised a BOOST heel pod, even shaping it after the Cushion 2 for a little throwback nod to the OG source of inspo. Next, the design team elected to go with EVA for the forefoot pod to balance the energy-returning comfort with stability.
To combine the two, adi looked to yet another EQT design principal: the tried and true Torsion bar from the Equipment drops of old. Designed to provide midfoot rigidity, the Torsion bar was reimagined in order to provide the flexibility necessary to connect the BOOST heel with the EVA forefoot, and bridge the gap between the two pods. The resulting ‘Point of Deflection’ bridge provides the finishing touch to the podular system’s drive for natural motion.
POD-S3.1 and Beyond
So far, the P.O.D.SYSTEM has only been employed by a single silhouette (the POD-S3.1), but the tooling tech is ripe for the picking for future Three Stripes breakthroughs. A special MakerLab workshop earlier this year showed that the possibilities for POD are endless, as sneakerheads from across the globe had the opportunity to come up with their own uppers and combine them with the POD tooling.
‘These are now opening up so many opportunities and possibilities for us as we look towards the future,’ says Groneck. ‘We could be combining different eras, different technologies, or different backgrounds from our archive. There are no limitations.’
The most recent drop — a Rise of the Creator pack — sees the silhouette diversify once again, this time with new men’s and women’s colourways. From core black with night grey and timber to an understated warm tweed-esque colourway, the P.O.D.SYSTEM just keeps on giving.
Stay tuned to see where POD goes from here as adidas ‘celebrates the interplay between the shoe’s unique tooling, contemporary technology and distinct aesthetic’ as ‘a testimony to a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.’
Did you like deconstructing the P.O.D.SYSTEM? You can also learn more about another standout adidas release, the NMD, here.