Design Approach: Allbirds Wool Runners

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We had the great honor of sitting down with Allbirds cofounder Tim Brown - a New Zealand native with a vision to build a brand and business that makes better products in a better way - to learn more about the inspiration and design approach of his newly launched, and might I confirm, insanely comfortable, wool runners. Besides the passion for design and comfortable shoes, we found out that we had another thing in common, the passion for soccer and to my surprise, I learned that Tim played for New Zealand in the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa.

Tim let us in on the impetus for developing and successfully designing the "most comfortable shoe imaginable."

"I think I started for a few reasons. One, I felt it was really hard to find really simple shoes. My perspective was that many shoes were over designed, overly colourful, overly logo-ed and that there was the opportunity to create something that focused on form and was extremely disciplined in its execution. I also felt a lot of those types of classic simple sneakers were really uncomfortable and could be designed to be more so. The use of premium natural materials (rather than synthetics) was the final leg of this that was a way to solve the comfort problem and also fulfill a really clear goal for me to make shoes in a more sustainable way."

We were also super curious to learn about the challenges Tim and co-founder Joey Zwillinger encountered along the way, most specifically with the design process...

"A shoe is such a simple thing but a really hard thing to make well. It has to fit, it is worn in different ways, people have different preferences. We – Jamie and I – boiled everything down to focus on simplicity of firm, of materials, and tried to maintain a singular focus on creating what in effect is almost a piece of anti-design. Everything detail on the shoe – and there are few – has a reason. There is as few seams as possible to help the comfort. It is in some ways naked because of that and it took an extremely long time to get the form right. We literally went through hundreds of tweaks and adjustments to get the whole thing to work."

Peek some sketches of the Wool Runners by the talented New Zealand based product designer Jamie McLellan.

Here are some photos:

For more information check out http://www.allbirds.com/

Written by

Fabio Sasso

I'm a Brazilian product designer based in Oakland, California currently working for Google as a Staff Designer. I am also the founder of Abduzeedo, an award-winning digital publication about design and a personal project that has become the source of inspiration for millions of designers and enthusiasts.

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