Running Back to the Future
The success of Nike as a lifestyle brand has meant that it’s no longer always seen as an authentic running company. It’s often forgotten that when the company started out 50 years ago, it originally developed innovative running footwear. In 2022, with the Berlin Marathon fast approaching, it was time to reassert Nike’s history & put the soul back into Nike Running.
Conceived, designed and implemented by Sunst, the multi-dimensional instore environment, the Home of Running, would be a mecca for every runner in the city. Located in Nike’s flagship Berlin store, the project would be a focal point with experiences, installations, presentations, activations and innovative products. Through its aim of connecting individual runners with the wider community, this dedicated home to the art of running would re-establish Nike as the authentic running brand in time for the 48th edition of the Berlin Marathon.
Drawing on Nike Running’s extraordinary history – a legacy that stretches right back to the company’s founding in the 1960s as Blue Ribbon Sports – Sunst devised a concept that based around three core areas: the past, the present and the future.
To showcase Nike’s technological innovations through the ages, each section juxtaposed bleeding edge digital technology with physical showcases. Such as the pillar devoted to the first woman to win the marathon at the 1984 LA Olympics, Joan Benoit and an actual VW Bulli – the same model used by the co-founders to sell shoes at race meets.
Under the motto “runners helping runners”, the interactive space, Enable the Now, allowed visitors to receive world class services, meet with athletes, customize and purchase sneakers as well as gain access to all the events hosted by the Berlin running community. Creating the Future incorporated hi-tech activations and participatory activities alongside workshops and open formats to tackle issues related to sustainability and the move to carbon neutrality.
The rigidity of the modular metal framework, applied throughout the store, was offset by colourful powder coatings to give the space a more playful feel. Neon oranges and yellows emphasised the contrast between techy LED screens and the use of sustainable materials and metal. Smooth silver hangs accentuated the play between the rough and pristine, with exposed cabling and casual “post it” labelling dispersed throughout the space.
With its use of motion capture to create a unique visual artwork based on a runner’s stride, pace, heartrate and consistency of movement, the treadmill environment provided the key project activation. Its combination of bleeding edge technology and scientific data gathering was contrasted with the expressive visual images that materialised out of the athlete’s exertion. Once the activation was finished, the data was translated onto a printout as a takeaway for each participant. By mapping a runner’s unique aura, the Home of Running was not only placed at the centre of Berlin’s running culture but personalized for each individual runner. With the result that running became inextricably woven into Nike DNA.
The project coincided with the Berlin Marathon 2022 which just happened to host the best marathon run in human history. Eliud Kipchoge – the greatest long-distance runner of all time – broke his own world record on his way to achieving a time of 2:01:09. His visit on the morning after his victory was the highlight of the Home of Running, and his race shoes (still warm!) were showcased in a specially conceived presentation case.