We have seen many great documentaries on sneakers over the past few years. But this latest release from Netflix truly raises the bar: The new eight-part Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design offers a glimpse into the work and creative process of creative heavyweights – including Nike’s Tinker Hatfield.
At a solid 42 minutes, the Tinker Hatfield episode catches up with the luminary designer at home in Portland, Oregon where he surfs, plays the keyboard, rides his Vespa, coaches a pole vaulting team, cruises on his longboard, and adds his creative touches to new footwear designs. It’s all part of the process for the man behind the Nike Air Max and dozens of groundbreaking silhouettes. And in his words, the work always boils down to solving specific problems for athletes.
These athletes include the likes of Michael Jordan, who speaks extensively about his relationship to Tinker and their collaborative efforts on Jordan shoe designs over the years. The episode also features anecdotes and perspective from Nike CEO Mark Parker and sneaker culture pioneer Bobbito Garcia.
But it’s not all sunshine and praises, either, as Tinker also opens up about creative failures and dark moments in his career (he even thought he was finished after a particular mishap).
Supported by archival footage, detailed design sketches – including never-before-seen prop designs for Back to the Future II – and images from Tinker’s private memoirs, the Brian Oakes-directed episode paints a vivid picture of the footwear design trailblazer. Watch the Official Abstract Trailer here:
The other episodes in Season 1 of Abstract are not to be scoffed at, either: Other creatives featured on the show are Platon (photographer), Ralph Gilles (automobile designer) Christoph Niemann (illustrator), Paula Scher (graphic designer). And also read Tinker Hatfield’s SNEAKERS interview while you’re at it.
Opening image by Bruce Ely/Netflix. All images courtesy of Netflix.