Sneaker fan or not, it’s hard to not appreciate the material and manufacturing developments that have come out of the shoe design and manufacturing space. Between developments in responsive midsole materials for various athletic applications to new upper materials that bring shoe weight down and structural support up, the research and development that goes into creating the next great shoe can be just as exciting as any other product when the glossy and nauseating marketing is stripped away.

Among other shoes that have changed the landscape for Nike’s approach to manufacturing and shoe design is industrial designer Marc Newson’s Zvezdochka, which was done in collaboration with the sportswear giant.

Originally released in 2004, the Zvezdochka was designed as a multi-purpose shoe for cosmonauts, which Newson said he found interesting because no previous shoe design had explored the needs of a zero-gravity environment.
“From a functional point of view, my experience at the Russian Space Agency intrigued and inspired me to develop a multi-purpose shoe for cosmonauts,” Newson said at the time. Previously, Newson had recently finished working with the Russian Space Agency on another project.

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Named after the Russian space dog who rode the Sputnik 10 to space in 1961, the four-part injection-molded shoe is said to have revolutionized Nike’s approach to manufacturing and shoe design by thinking about the shoe as an industrial product rather than a shoe. Additionally, the individual components (an outer cage, outsole, inner-sleeve and insole) allow for a user to interchange worn out parts rather than having to replace an entire shoe, thus moving the shoe into being a modular and sustainable design. The modular design also allows a user to adapt their shoe to different function and environments.


Nike President and CEO Mark Parker has even declared that it is projects like the Zvezdochka that have ultimately paved the way for some of Nike’s other manufacturing breakthroughs including the Nike Flyknit and how they’ve learned to approach digital fabrication.


“Often when you enter into a project, you don’t know what you’ve learned until you start the next one,” says Parker. “For the ZVEZDOCHKA, we knew we had broken new ground: a shoe with four interchangeable parts. It was such a simplified process and led to new exploration in how products are made and the potential for customization. It’s a great example of how a functional innovation helps drive a completely new aesthetic.”



The shoe will be available on December 29th at select NikeLab locations and online.


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.