The adidas A-ZX series was conceived as a means for the German sportswear giant to partner with creatives from around the globe and offer them the opportunity to interpret the ZX8000 running shoe silhouette in a multitude of unexpected manners. While collaborations with artists, designers, and perhaps technologists, we admit we were caught by surprise with the announcement that Europe’s oldest porcelain manufacturer would kick things off in delicate and details style heading into 2021.
MEISSEN, the renown German porcelain design house, was tasked to create a one-of-one hand painted amalgamation of leather and porcelain – an interpretation fashioned after the brand’s iconic running silhouette with ornate flourishes. The ZX8000 Porcelain’s colorful melange of arabesque floral detailing is directly inspired by the opulent and grand Meissen Krater Vase, a historic ceramic piece designed in 1856 by Ernst August Leuteritz, with unique porcelain pieces stitched onto the sneaker’s tongue and heel counter.
The sneaker edition now includes 15 of the vase’s 130 different patterns, each adornment credited to the precise skill of four Meissen painters. We spoke to Till Jagla, adidas Global Head of Energy and also Dr. Tillmann Blaschke CEO of Meissen about some of the details related to the project:
At first glance it seems the shoe is made entirely of porcelain, but only specific sections are ceramic. Could you elaborate upon the amalgamation of leather and ceramics?
Till Jagla, adidas Global Head of Energy: The easiest path to approach this collaboration would have been to create an art piece fully made of porcelain, but we preferred to opt for an even more conceptual way to merge these two worlds of MEISSEN and adidas in one product.
The manufacturing process has been very complex and took us more than a year to finish the product. The team has been obsessed to create the perfect object. When I think about this project, this is actually what I liked the most: the love, the passion and the dedication, which have led to an overwhelming result.
Dr. Tillmann Blaschke CEO of Meissen: From the beginning we strived for the sneaker to be an art piece like no other. The leather shoe is decorated with MEISSEN original paintings. Beyond that, the shoe’s absolute highlights are hand painted porcelain parts, creating an amazing symbiosis between adidas and MEISSEN.
Noting the MEISSEN painters are typically tasked to embellish porcelain, did they find working on an entirely novel surface challenging?
Dr. Tillmann Blaschke CEO of Meissen: Of course it was a remarkable honor for our painters to work on such a unique project that will stay one of a kind in the history of MEISSEN. Therefore especially experienced and trained painters, who are familiar with leather decoration techniques, painted the décors on the ZX8000 Porcelain sneaker. This was especially challenging as no mistakes are allowed due to the fact that the colors immediately are soaked up by the leather so no corrections are possible.
Jagla of adidas notes while the collaboration will remain a “1 of 1” art piece, the sportswear brand has plans already in motion to take the project and produce a more accessible realization for fans of both brands in the immediate future in the form of a wearable sneaker.
The ZX8000 Porcelain is to be auctioned off via Sotheby’s from December 7th to the 16th with a starting price of $70,000. The final auction sale amount will be donated to the Brooklyn Museum to support access to arts education to the underserved youth in NYC. A wearable ZX8000 Porcelain silhouette directly inspired by the one of kind art piece sporting the same traditional Meissen design will be made available for purchase on December 11th.