The Warm-Up

Science meets tech­nol­ogy meets art in this Que­bec na­tive’s ap­proach to run­ning shoe de­sign

Canadian Running - - FEATURES - By Mary­lene Vester­gom

Imag­ine watch­ing the up­com­ing 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and see­ing one of your de­signs rac­ing across the fin­ish line. JeanFrançois Ful­lum, Se­nior In­no­va­tion De­sign Di­rec­tor at New Bal­ance, also hopes a few of those fin­ishes will be chris­tened with a gold medal. No, Ful­lum is not a mem­ber of Team Canada – he’s some­one who took his pas­sion as an in­dus­trial de­signer into the world of sports equip­ment.

Upon grad­u­a­tion from the Univer­sity of Mon­treal, Ful­lum found him­self at Bauer, owned by Nike at the time. Ful­lum worked on the first Nike hockey glove, which was very pop­u­lar and worn by many of his child­hood he­roes, such as Mario Lemieux.

Where do you get your in­spi­ra­tion?

“Ev­ery­where we look out­side the footwear in­dus­try. I’m a big cy­clist, and a few years ago I went to the In­ner Bike show in Ve­gas and I saw a su­per light­weight bike. Ev­ery­thing was re­ally stripped down, and that re­ally in­spired me to see what I could do for footwear. I started re­mov­ing ma­te­ri­als from shoes. That’s what gave birth to one of our lead per­for­mance shoes, the RC5000. At the time, it was the light­est road run­ning shoe avail­able at 3.2 oz., which is maybe three to four times lighter than a stan­dard shoe.”

Big­gest mis­con­cep­tion?

“It’s not just aes­thet­ics. A lot of the new gen­er­a­tion de­sign­ers are sneak­er­heads. Very few of them have this itch for the tech­ni­cal side of footwear. What I like most about my job is that it’s a mix of science, tech­nol­ogy and art.”

Big­gest game changer?

“The min­i­mal footwear craze was a bit ex­treme, but it also shook things up a bit. Peo­ple started to look at dif­fer­ent heel drops and shoes be­came more de­con­structed, less bulky and heavy. That move­ment opened up the in­dus­try for more in­no­va­tion and made things more fun to ex­plore.”

What drives you?

“A big­ger-pict ure mind­set and be­ing able to i n st i l a new de si g n phi los­o­phy by push­ing my team to be more in­no­va­tive or more dis­rup­tive.”

Are you liv­ing your dream?

“I’m su­per in­spired and ex­cited about that mix of science and art. I feel like I’m be­tween a de­signer and an en­gi­neer. I have a re­ally good sense of what makes a prod­uct work or not work with ath­letes and the biome­chan­ics lab, but I also ap­pre­ci­ate the trends and what peo­ple are look­ing for in terms of aes­thet­ics. I’m able to blend those two worlds to­gether; it’s prob­a­bly my big­gest as­set.”

2020 Olympics

“We are look­ing at a few dif­fer­ent things. NB has a very rich his­tory in work­ing with Ja­panese ath­letes and cul­ture. We just an­nounced a part­ner­ship with Hi­toshi Mimura – a leg­end in the footwear-mak­ing world – so you can be sure that this will im­pact our de­signs. There will def­i­nitely be a big push to bring in a new lan­guage and look.”

Ca­reer ad­vice?

“Although you’re re­spon­si­ble for the shoe de­sign, you’re also work­ing with en­gi­neers, mar­ket­ing, ath­letes etc., so be­ing able to com­pro­mise is key. It’s about team­work and not just one per­son work­ing on these prod­ucts.”

De­scribe what you do in 140 char­ac­ters or less Through de­sign, bring new tech­nolo­gies, new plat­forms to the mar­ket for New Bal­ance.

Mary­lene Vester­gom is a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to Cana­dian Run­ning. She’s cov­ered sports for over 20 years, in­clud­ing mul­ti­ple Olympic Games.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.