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Inspired By Architecture: Designing The All New ARKK Velcalite CM H-X1

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Since the very beginning of the ARKK journey, we have been inspired by innovative architecture and design. On occasion, our design team will take very specific creative cues from a work of especially unique architecture. This was the case with ARKK's all new Velcalite CM H-X1 sneaker, whose design was informed by Copenhagen's Cirkelbroen ('Circle Bridge') pedestrian bridge. Here's the story of how the Velcalite went from an idea to ARKK's newest sneaker silhouette...

Early Velcalite sneaker sketch by Martin Chapuy

SCANDINAVIAN SNEAKER DESIGN: DEFYING THE STATUS QUO

Since the very beginning of the ARKK journey, we have been inspired by innovative architecture and design. We've always believed that the sneaker is more than a shoe and, like an iconic building, can embody and reflect the context it comes out of (in our case, that's Scandinavia). Anytime we encounter practical functions combined with elegant forms, it challenges us to continue thinking outside of the box and keep on defying the status quo of modern sneaker design.

On occasion, our design team will take very specific creative cues from a work of especially unique architecture. This was the case with ARKK's all new Velcalite CM H-X1 sneaker, whose design was informed by Copenhagen's Cirkelbroen ('Circle Bridge') pedestrian bridge.

Circle Bridge Copenhagen sketch by Martin Chapuy

Photo of Circle Bridge Copenhagen

Copenhagen's Circle Bridge. Photo by Susanne Nilsson (edited). Used with permission.

INSPIRED BY COPENHAGEN’S CIRCLE BRIDGE

Donated to the city as a gift by Nordea-fonden (which supports non-profit and charitable purposes), the Circle Bridge opened to the public in August, 2015 and, in the years since, it has become an icon of Copenhagen. Designed by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson (Robert Banović was the project architect), the 42 meter long, 210-ton Cirkelbroen is constructed of five circular platforms, each with its own vertical mast and cable structure (118 cables in all)—design details that nod to the city's rich maritime history. For most people, though, it is the bridge's unconventional circular platforms that make it so extraordinary. According to Nordea-fonden:

"The circle presents an alternative to the direct line across the water. It encourages pedestrians and cyclists to reduce their speed; it provides a vantage point where people can take a short break, thus creating a new space between two urban areas rather than providing the fastest possible route across Christianshavn Canal.

The circle also refers to the compass, to orientation and to cartography. It suggests a dynamic navigation model which enables a renegotiation of the public space. In so doing, the bridge makes small changes to the way we perceive and experience the city."

This is precisely the kind of innovative thinking that inspires us so much: re-imagining the nature of the otherwise simple pedestrian bridge to be more, to be "a new space between two urban areas rather than providing the fastest possible route," and thus, creating, "small changes to the way we perceive and experience the city."

In other words, the architects of the Circle Bridge used design to challenge the status quo and change the game. 

Sneaker detail sketch by Martin Chapuy

FROM FOOTBRIDGE TO FOOTWEAR DESIGN

So, exactly how did ARKK's crack team of sneaker designers take inspiration from the Circle Bridge in developing the all new Velcalite CM H-X1ARKK sneaker designer Mette Engelbrecht explains, "Cirkelbroen is such an atypical take on the idea of the pedestrian bridge and that really connects with ARKK's design DNA. Also, there is a really graphic quality to the the bridge's cables, which, when combined with the circular platforms, creates a harmonious synergy and a feeling of suspended weightlessness. That's exactly what we wanted with the design of the Velcalite. We knew we could make a lightweight sneaker, but we also wanted it to look light as well, which can actually be the harder part."

As the design of the Velcalite progressed, Engelbrecht explains, "we decided to merge an athletic sneaker profile with some bold, architectural details that point back to Cirkelbroen. In the Velcalite's design, you can see the criss-crossing pattern of the handrail, the angled suspension cables, and the organic shape of the bridge's support columns."

Built on the Hover-X1 sole unit and constructed with ARKK's breathable, single layer Compiled Mesh upper, the Velcalite took its final shape after months of research and design development and includes inspirational touches from a number of sources, including Copenhagen's Cirkelbroen. But in the end, Engelbrecht explains, "the Velcalite is an everyday shoe, it can really go anywhere, especially in the summertime. For us, it's the perfect mix of technical details, clean lines, and comfort."

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