When you enter Craig Green’s world, you’ll find everything torn and scrutinized within an inch of his lifeless life. For example, the core components of his adidas Originals CG SCUBA PHORMAR collaboration are broken down, analyzed, and questioned to better understand how they can be reinterpreted into something else.
Green’s curiosity stems from a desire to learn that manifests itself in many forms: trial and error, innovation, experimentation, mistakes and serendipity. With all of that taken into account, Green is a creative who can’t be pigeonholed as a fashion designer or just a frequent adidas collaborator, but someone who gets excited by learning something new that he can then teach us to the rest of us.
His shoe designs reflect his vision that “sneakers are almost like miniature sculptures”. As we’ve learned, each collaborative effort brings its own physical contraption, often inspired by the creative process of making the shoe in the first place. But the CG SCUBA PHORMAR and subsequent spinning machine, made for the shoe campaign, came from somewhere else. “We thought about how we could push the shoes into something 3D or movement,” Green told HYPEBEAST. “How do we use a simple motion technique to create the adidas Trefoil logo from shoes?”
Like much of Green’s work, he began by looking at detail – both visible and subjective. “There is always a narrative aspect to the sculptures and campaigns we do. With adidas, we worked on a smaller scale related to the shoes we were making, using the elements of the shoe. The way we work on the shoes is 3D, like making mini-sculptures – but that’s how we translate that to be something more whimsical.
Considering the construction of the shoe, Green begins to dissect and process the individual components for inspiration. “The shape of the original PHORMAR was so clean, and when we looked at the shoes, we saw that they were starting to make leaf shapes. We used the strings of the shoes as elastic tension to change the shape of the sculpture. I guess they make sense, but it doesn’t start with deep meaning, it’s more about building what we could build using [the shoes].”
The result was a spinning mechanism built from the shoes that, when in motion, would give the illusion of the Trefoil logo. Something seemingly flat incorporates the tension and motion to spin into a 3D object, morphing into a much larger concept that explains the shoe itself. “It was about expanding and shrinking, which sounds simple, but it was a complicated thing to figure out that involved a lot of studio testing,” says Green. In short, the shoe and the sculpture echo each other.
Sculptures are part of Craig Green’s identity – his studio is part fashion, part workshop – and after exploring how to make various conceptual interpretations of his collaborative shoes over the years, it was time for him to reflect on the way that can be translated into his sneakers. For the first time since Green and adidas reunited for Spring/Summer 2020, the designer has been tasked with creating his own unique unit for his latest design, the CG SCUBA PHORMAR, which in many ways is a miniature sculpture it -same.
“I think the best way to design is to work within the confines of something,” adds Green. “We had to think about how it was used before and what that meant, and we had to think about how we would do something new with this tool. But it was exciting to be able to start from scratch based on the aesthetic we had already achieved with adidas. It’s the ultimate dream to have your own sole design with adidas, it’s quite difficult to do and it’s amazing that they wanted to take the next step with us.
In order to continually evolve their collaboration, Green threaded the cords not just around the shoe, but into the midsole on the medial side. As a result, it echoes the tension used in the mechanism, and of course, it continues the design language of its ready-to-wear line. “adidas is very open to experimentation and that’s the way I like to work – experimenting with new techniques and technologies that they work with. It’s always a very exciting process,” says Green. “[adidas] has a creative lab and he builds and makes things; it’s a bit like our studio in London so that’s why it works well. There’s a lot of manufacturing, testing and experimenting, and the team and technology can turn those ideas into products.
It all comes back to what makes Green excited: the concept of trial and error to figure out how to evolve. His sculptures and sneakers stem from this inquisitive nature, allowing him to open his eyes to “a new realm of design that maybe I didn’t know much about before.” Through all of his work is the same unifying theme: “I’m constantly learning.”