Walls Inspired by Sneakers at Nike China

Eleven installations in Nike’s Beijing office exude the brand’s confidence, innovation, and optimism.

Image courtesy of Johannes Torpe Studios.

Johannes Torpe Studios, a design firm based in Copenhagen, recently worked on Nike’s Beijing offices, where they created 11 art installations inspired by the company’s brand and products. Each of the installations — like an undulating wall that moves and morphs from metal to orange, emblazoned with a quote from Nike’s co-founder Bill Bowerman, “If you have a body you are an athlete” — exudes the brand’s confidence, innovation, and optimism.

We reached out to JTS’s head of branding and project leader, Rachel Mackay, to find out more.

Image courtesy of Johannes Torpe Studios.

What inspired Nike to have JTS create these branded, experiential spaces within their office?

Nike China was looking for a Scandinavian design approach from a firm that understood China, so they approached us and three other companies and asked if we would pitch them a concept. In the end, our experience with Chinese projects and our focus on storytelling won us the job.

How do Nike employees and visitors to the space interact with the installations?

Most of the pieces are situated in high-traffic areas of the office, which means people are walking past them frequently throughout the course of the day. The overall design concept encompasses the idea of pieces that morph and change through movement, so guests and employees are automatically interacting with the brand installations by simply walking through the office. Every time they pass the individual pieces they will see new aspects or notice a new detail because it’s almost impossible to pass a piece in the same way twice.

Image courtesy of Johannes Torpe Studios.

What do you think the value is of these types of experiential spaces are in offices?

Incorporating brand stories and values into the office space is a way of creating relevance and engagement for employees and visitors alike. It’s a front-row branding that inspires pride in the brand story and promise. When done well, this can be extremely powerful. Our intention was to create incentives for the employees to continually find moments of inspiration and reflection in their day-to-day. We believe it’s valuable to offer experiences to employees that can trigger emotional and sensory reactions. Installations are just one way of creating more dynamic and stimulating working environments.

Have you completed similar projects for other clients?

We have designed several office spaces over the years and our studio is usually commissioned to design entire spaces. We always design with the consideration of branding and individual moments within the user journey of a space, but this was our first time working specifically with brand installations.

Image courtesy of Johannes Torpe Studios.

How large is the entire office?

The office space spans two floors and is approximately 1,700 square meters.

How large are the installations?

The installations range from 140 by 200 cm pieces to an entire 10 meter long by 2.6 meter high wall.

Is Nike creating similar installations in other offices in other cities?

We have since been hired by Nike China to complete an installation in their new office in Chengdu, so we look forward to seeing the result of that.

Image courtesy of Johannes Torpe Studios.

What sorts of materials did you use in the installations? Tell us about ones that were used in really unique ways.

The use of materials varies from piece to piece. Materials such as rubber-paint, fabric, and recycled wood were chosen as interpretive of Nike materials and innovations. The materials and finishes needed to be true to the Nike brand and at the same time be practical for the context and scale.

When were the installations completed? Will they stay there for good?

They were completed in June 2015, and yes, they’ll be there indefinitely.

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