In celebration of Air Max Day, Nike—as ambitious as ever—went beyond the obvious, presenting the first ever Air Max Con, held concurrently in Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York. The taste-makers championing fresh, innovative designs, introduced the Air Max model back in 1987. The event at 550 Washington Street, New York served as the ultimate Nike experience, encapsulating every essence of one of their most iconic shoes. In keeping with the very culture that helped define the brand, visitors were taken on journey of discovery.
Greeted by an Air Max Vault, presenting the top 100 Air Max classics. Upon review, you’re encouraged to then vote back your favourite model. From there you enter this new enchanting world, where interactive, colossal kaleidoscopes—or pods, if you will—entice you in and soon become the norm. Cue “Time-Lapse” mode on your iPhone. This is the “H-T-M Room,” inspired by designers Hiroshi Fujiwara, Tinker Hatfield and Nike CEO Mark Parker. Swooshing through the crowds the “Masters of Air” confront you. There the avid collectors and true Nike connoisseurs, exhibit their expansive collection of Air Max sneakers. And just when the experience couldn’t get any better, it did. Multi-media artist, Christophe Roberts’ immense work stops you in your stride. The otherworldly sculpture, “Air to Throne” is tremendous, pure in majesty. There is something insightful and mesmerising about this creation, echoing a phoenix in flames rising from the ashes. This animal is brought to life through the transformation of Nike boxes. After witnessing such a talent, I can assure you, you’ll never look at sneaker boxes the same way again.
Hailing from Chicago and growing up during the golden era of hip-hop, he drew upon this inspiration to produce iconic sculptures. Whether channeling artists such as Jacob Lawrence and Todd McFarlane, or recalling memories of the Afro-Caribbean celebration Junkanoo, the evidence is there in his work. Roberts first felt compelled to explore this body of work at the age of 12, where he acknowledged the importance of form and space in a piece. From there he went on to create powerful robust creatures, often used as a vessel for his psyche. He also notes that it is thanks to the support of the strong women in his life, his mother and aunt in particular, who act as his motivation.
“The animals and beast are a metaphor for an inner emotion and passion I have”
The mix of rebel culture and his environment in Chicago played a pivotal role in his development as an artist, and served as the ideal platform for his fiercely metaphoric beasts. Shortly after moving to New York he began working with Nike. We got a chance to spend a day in Roberts shoes during Air Max Con and discover the process behind this unique series of work.