Talking P.O.D.SYSTEM Design Process
Fresh from the launch of the Deerupt, Prophere and Kamanda nameplates, adidas Originals revealed their official next-big-thing franchise at a London launch event. Known as the P.O.D.SYSTEM, the modular concept uses a Torsion-like ‘Point of Deflection’ bridge to splice traditional EVA forefoot cushioning to a generously proportioned chunk of bouncy BOOST housed in the rear end. The new-gen fusion hints at a revitalised approach for adidas Originals as they examine ways to harness the collective power of collaborative energy.
Lena Groneck was a key member of the design team that developed the P.O.D SYSTEM concept. We spoke with Groneck, from her base at adidas HQ in Herzogenaurach, Germany, to hear about why the P.O.D.SYSTEM is all about finding beauty in the most unusual combinations.
How do you start your design process on a project like this?
For each project we use different tools – both physically and creatively. Every project is different and has a different approach.
This project was special because we had no idea where we wanted to end up; it was a lot about gut feelings. We didn’t constrain ourselves with rules or limitations.
We tried different tools, varied approaches, and in the end decided upon the approach that felt right to us. We chose the most stripped back way of creating and went for quick and rough hands on mock-up making inspired by the idea of unexpected combinations.
What were the considerations needed when designing product?
When we started working on the concept we didn’t have a set destination or a preconceived notion of where we wanted to end up. Our sole focus was that it had to be different to how we normally handle our projects. We were determined for this project to lead us somewhere completely new.
When we went through our archives, we found the Cushion 2 from 1994/1995. We loved the idea of it. 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.
Taking this idea and stripping it back to its most rudimentary concepts, for the first few days we focussed only on cutting up soles from our archive that we felt were poignant in the brand’s history. We combined these sole bits with interesting and appealing things we found in our surrounding. In this way we were able to collect different elements and different materials from varied moments in our archive, and started combining these in unconventional and unexpected ways. We encouraged our team to think without rules or limitations – any idea was worth exploring.
It really overhauled the way we used to look at footwear soles and tooling. It was all about testing the limits of creativity.
As a result of this process, we found that we were combining shapes and elements that we would normally not combine together. We found the strongest creative concepts were the ones that brought familiar elements together with new elements to form unexpected combinations. The elements were great by themselves, but even greater together.
The sole exploration we did in the very beginning was definitely the most rough, but also the most influential creative process. It really overhauled the way we used to look at footwear soles and tooling. It was all about testing the limits of creativity. The process was not necessarily meant to give us answers, but as we explored further we began to discover the right questions that needed to be asked.
What were some challenges you faced and how did you resolve them?
With this new approach, the general process was fundamentally different to other projects. Trying this new process also brought up lots of pertinent questions. The open-ended nature of the project wasn’t always easy – it really felt like putting together a puzzle without the final image in front of us. As such, we were always looking for the next puzzle piece. Sometimes it was easy to find, sometimes it took us longer to find the right one. In the end, everything made sense.
Looking back, the most difficult obstacle to overcome was the question of how we wanted to split and combine the sole in order to provide maximum flexibility and comfort.
POD vs adidas highlights like the NMD and EQT?
Some of the past adidas Originals highlights were a lot about one-sole units, whereas POD combines different elements and materials together. POD is all about revolutionising tooling construction.
The process that we undertook in creating the shoe has also led to a new creative platform that allows us to imagine experimental and unexpected combinations.
You mention, ‘good design should have a reason for existence and be linked to culture’. How does the POD System fulfil those needs?
For us, POD is not only bringing a silhouette to the range, it is a completely new tooling construction.
When we started thinking about where we wanted to go, we were drawn to the creations that combine something familiar, that has emanated from culture, be it adidas’ own archive or popular culture as whole, with something new and unknown. That is what P.O.D.SYSTEM is for us.
The P.O.D.SYSTEM has really evolved to form the POD-S3.1 silhouette. How will this product continue to evolve? What’s next
That’s the great thing about our process. It was not necessarily meant to give us answers, but it did provide the right questions that needed to be asked.
We didn’t limit ourselves and, as a result, we found beauty in the most unusual combinations. These are now opening up so many opportunities and possibilities for us as we look towards the future.
P.O.D.SYSTEM is all about that. We could be combining different eras, different technologies, or different backgrounds from our archive. There are no limitations.