Nike's 2016 Milan exhibition is a multi-faceted exploration of the brand's approach to movement.

Nike has invited visitors to explore what movement means to them at The Nature of Motion, its exhibition at Salone Del Mobile this year.

Located away from the rest of the design shows in an otherwise sleepy part of Milan, Nike’s exhibition has taken over Ex Fabbrica Orobia 15, an industrial space built in 1920. Inside, visitors weave their way through a labyrinth made from stacked shoe boxes.

Nike partnered with eight different external designers to embed installations in the maze, each of whom used different mediums to interpret the idea of “natural motion.”


“The future is all about haptic intelligence,” said John Hoke, VP global design of Nike, on the eve of Milan Design Week. It’s about “enabling the body to gather information not just from sight and sound but also from feel.”

The Nature of Motion reflects this approach. The first installation is a set of drums by Italian designer Martino Gamper, who repurposes Nike’s Flyknit textiles to explore the rhythm of natural motion, stretching them over laminated plywood and fastening them with laces.

Also in the first section, American architect Greg Lynn’s intelligent microclimate chair adjusts its temperature according to the body’s, and British designer Sebastian Wrong’s communal ergonomic chair reflects the designer’s fascination with Italian futurism.


Nike’s internal design team created the following rooms, which give visitors an up-close, immersive understanding of the brand’s longstanding research into natural motion. Rooms include an exploration of the Nike Free RN Motion Flyknit, “Nike’s most natural ride yet,” and experiments in 3D printing.


The final installation, Beyond Free, features over 30 experimental sport shoes that conceptually express speed and movement.


Before leaving the exhibition, guests encounter an installation of multicolored dots covering the courtyard space, designed to help them discover what their natural motion is. One guest decided to hop out solely on the yellow circles, while another danced across the courtyard.


Like Nike’s laboratory, The Nature of Motion is a place where design, science, technology and emotion meet. Visitors are sent on a journey that leaves them with a deeper understanding of the brand’s mindset on both a practical and conceptual level—going beyond the sport shoe.

For more of our coverage of Milan Design Week, see our stories on The Restaurant and Kidult designs.