There are countless designs in society that work to make a practical product beautiful. Fashion is built on the aesthetic value of its designs, but it is nothing without clothes. Clothes- simple materials meant to keep someone protected and warm. The same goes for building architecture and shoe design, practical things made to be beautiful.
A question sometimes pops up in these designs, what if the product wasn’t covered up? There’s a lot of practical work that goes into making a shoe work, or a building, or a watch. This work produces a lot of less desirable elements, things like cogs, piping, or shoe air bubbles. These aren’t just random examples though.
These three products, a building, a watch, and a shoe, they all moved the inside out. What other designers saw as a problem, something to cover. A few men decided to make a design choice. It all started with the first electric watch, a brand called Accutron.
Accutron watches are still popular today, with lots of history to discover. They’ve been in space, been key celebrities’ choice, and turned watches inside out. It’s not hard to imagine today, a watch with a cog or the entire inside showing. Although at the time it was completely novel. A design choice that turned design in on itself.
Some years later a man named Richard Rogers designed the Centre Pompidou. An architectural feat built in Paris, the building exposed its inner piping, electrical work, and sewage alike. It’s not only a loud and colorful building, it’s a building that turned itself inside out.
Neither of these examples can really compare to the social influence of one shoe, Nike Air Maxes. It’s funny to think a shoe can mean more than a giant building in France. Today though there are few designs more influential than that on a shoe. Tinker Hatfield, designer of this shoe, turned them inside out. Not completely, but in one very particular way, with air bubbles. Hatfield knew the shoes had air bubbles for mobility and breathability, and he decided to show that. Just like Accutron watches, it’s a common design choice today. Although at the time it was revolutionary.
A watch, a building, and a shoe. These are all mediums someone used to do something different that sparked a creative revolution. It isn’t a design choice that’s impossible to conceive, but it takes something different to put it into practice. These are just three small examples of one small innovation, but they’re meaningful. Only time can tell when the next big inside out design will take off. Or maybe it’s simply something that will be left in the past.