To design the next Saucony Originals Select release, we walked our home city of Boston for inspiration. Looking up at every turn, we saw rich history and classic New England palettes, but it was looking down that revealed the signature element we ultimately chose as our muse.
Saucony Footwear Designer, Moira Cunningham sat down with us to share her insight on the design process behind the Shadow 5000 "Bricks". Moira shares with us her inspiration and how she executes her designs to bring the concept of Boston Homecoming to life through the Bricks design feature.
Pictured Above: Saucony Footwear Designer: Moira Cunningham.
SAUCONY ORIGINALS: How long have you been designing for Saucony? Give us a little on your background in design.
MOIRA CUNNINGHAM: I started at Saucony in May of 2014, so it’s been a little under three years. I came here out of graduate school where I studied Integrated Product Design, which included a bit of design, engineering, and marketing. Before that, I majored in Architecture, which is where I learned most of the design fundamentals that I rely on at Saucony. It’s interesting how architecture has affected my design language and style even when applied to footwear -- I tend to generate lines that could be duplicated using a French curve. So, even if it looks organic, I probably drew a curve by radiusing segmented lines. I tend to process my creativity mathematically, and I attribute that to my educational background and the way I dissect my thoughts.
SO: When you first were assigned the Bricks shoe, where did you look for inspiration?
MC: The Bricks shoe is a continuation of the “Boston Homecoming” design theme for Originals in 2017, as we wanted to highlight Saucony’s hometown. Boston has architectural elements that define its character and distinguish it from any other American city, which is why the team believed this would be an interesting story. It’s an old New England city with a lot of history, and I found myself inspired by the buildings at Harvard and Faneuil Hall, the Freedom Trail, to name a few -- there is plenty of inspiration here. Our architecture preserves and tells the story of Boston and its role in American history, and we wanted to represent and celebrate that with this project.
Pictured Above: Early samples of the Shadow 5000 "Bricks" on the Grid SD and Grid 9000. Implementing different material usage and color pairings to speak to the "Bricks" design theme.
SO: How do you go about conceptualizing the “Bricks” theme without making the design/material combination too literal?
MC: I think what defines bricks, more than color or shape, is their tactility. When you’re working with materials that differ from the material(s) you’re trying to emulate, the most important thing to consider is texture. I experimented with a few different “bricks” executions to try to capture their tactile quality, including debossed and laser etched leathers. Additionally, I worked with textile patterns that might relate to laid-brick patterns, including traditional offset stacked rows and chevron. Ultimately, the team found that the etched leather created a texture that compared most to the hand feel and visual tactility of bricks.
Pictured Above: Toe down angles of the initial samples of the "Bricks" shoe.
SO: What details did you incorporate that make this shoe stand out?
MC: I think my favorite element on the shoe is the tongue medallion, inspired by the Freedom Trail markers that denote the 17 historical sites located along the trail. It was fun, again, to try to duplicate the appearance and tactility of these marker plates using leather. I decided to play with the Saucony Originals logo to conform to the circular design, and found a burnished leather to create the illusion of tarnished metal. The debossing mimics the relief of the plaque. It’s a detail that I’m excited to point out, because while it visually polishes the overall design, it is also relevant to the theme and inspiration for the project.
Pictured Above: The production version of the Shadow 5000 "Bricks" featuring a debossed tongue medallion inspired by Boston's Freedom Trail and the 17 historical sites along the trail.
SO: How many sample rounds did you go through before confirming your final design?
MC: Because there were a few executions in the works, as the team wanted to best capture the quality of bricks, this project took about three rounds. We also experimented with a few different silhouettes to see which might work best with the materials and processes that were ultimately selected. In the end, we believe we’ve landed on the best and cleanest execution for the shoe to capture the essence of bricks and the season’s Bostonian theme.
Pictured Above: Three sample rounds of the Bricks theme, before it was brought to the Shadow 5000 silhouette.
The Shadow 5000 "Bricks" will be available this Friday, March 10th for $120. Limited quantities will be available in Men's sizes 5-12,13 & 14. Follow @SauconyOriginals on Instagram, @SauconyOrigs on Twitter or opt-in to saucony.com emails to be notified as soon as it launches. Check out #Shadow5kBricks on Social for more images of this silhouette.