DESTROY TO CREATE
INSTALLATION FOR NIKE SPORTSWEAR
“Whoever must be a creator always annihilates.” This somewhat
anarchistic quote by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was the main,
somewhat unlikely, concept for the promotional campaign around
the launch of a new varsity jacket by Nike Sportswear.
The idea was that in order to move forward and radically change
things (with the help of a revolutionary new product!) they would
have to destroy their past and leave behind a shattered market.
With this in mind they approached me to come up with an idea
along those lines. In stead of playing it safe and making what
they were hinting towards, something out of concrete, I opted to
really make something completely new. I presented and eventually
created something that I had never done before, of which I wasn’t
sure was possible, within the shortest possible time frame.
A burnt wooden replica of the Destroyer jacket.
- INSTALLATION VIEWS
Less than a month before the product launch event in London
I received an e-mail from Nike Sportswear whether I would be
interested in making something for them. They gave me the
background information and told me about the “Destroy to
Create” concept. Naturally I was intrigued. For such a large
company with a crispy clean image to come up with an idea
like that and push it through is quite remarkable.
The only issue was to come up with an idea, produce it and get it
to London in time for the event. Opting to not pursue something
with concrete I presented the idea of a burnt wooden jacket, which
was approved after a few days of decicion making processes and
fine tuning of the presentation.
When the example jacket arrived in the mail it left me with two
weeks to finish the work. In the mean time I had been busy
sourcing companies able to assist in the production. It proved to be
impossible to find anyone willing and able to take a project of this
scale on on such short notice with such a tight deadline.
- Fortunately the company, Booiz Metal, who had worked with
me on several other projects was able to help me out. This meant
that they had to rebuild and completely reprogram their old metal
CNC router to work with a block of wood of this size. New tools
were constructed overnight and routing could start as soon as the
computer jacket model was ready. Of course this wasn’t a challenge
free process, but eventually a full jacket model was constructed.
The routing was done in four stages. First the front of the jacket
was done roughly to remove most of the wood and to create a basic
shape. After that a small router head created the smaller details.
The block of wood was then turned over and aligned precisly, so
the rough and detailed routing would continue there.
With three days to go before the event I burnt the jacket with
a flame torch. At first I tried a gentle yellow flame, but quickly
learned that it requires a blue steel cutting flame to set fire to a
compact block of wood that size. Finally it was preserved with a
clear coating also used on wooden basketball courts.
- I drove the jacket out to London from Amsterdam early on a friday
morning, the day before the deadline. The 5 hour drive went
relatively smooth and by mid afternoon I dropped the Jacket off at
the 1948 location in Shoreditch in London. Well in time to get it
On saturday the event was held. The jacket was hung by two metal
chains from the top and bottom and lit from the bottom by two
lamps. People told me it looked great. The jacket was exhibited
for 4 weeks after which it was transported to New York for an
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