In the space of a few decades, sneakers have become the most widespread design object in the world. The exhibition Sneakers Unboxed, on display from 3 May until 16 October 2022, offers you a behind-the-scenes look at the footwear that triggered technological breakthroughs, inspired new youth cultures and turned the fashion world on its head. Trainers are bought and worn every day by millions of people worldwide. Over a billion pairs were sold in 2020.
Sneakers Unboxed combines the shoes’ history and cultural context with the latest innovations in design and sustainability. The exhibition focuses on the designers and engineers behind the key innovations in sneaker design and technology as well as the people who turned the trainer into a style icon. Discover which shoe is the most traded of all time, see a shoe-making robot, marvel at running shoes that have broken records and admire the rarest sneakers, past and present.
The history of the sneaker begins in the world of sport, with the focus on improving athletic performance. Sneakers only became truly popular and stylistically iconic, however, through the various youth cultures of the 1970s. It is largely thanks to young people that a shoe once mainly associated with sport became a symbol of style and status. They were drawn by a desire for exclusivity and freshness – still the most important elements of today’s sneaker culture. The modern sneaker industry is driven by design innovation but is very much consumer-led too. Limited editions and experimental collaborations between sports brands, small retailers and fashion designers have utterly transformed the industry.
The exhibition also looks at sustainability, one of the most pressing design concerns of our time. Innovative materials, experimental production techniques and circular design are among the themes that are raised and paint a picture of the future of sneaker design.
Sneakers Unboxed is a collaboration between Design Museum Den Bosch and the Design Museum, London. This exhibition is adapted for a Dutch audience, paying particular attention to the cultural history of the sneaker and the homegrown designers and the sneakers they have created.
On display from 3 May 2022 until 16 October 2022
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 11.00 – 17.00.
Design Museum Den Bosch
De Mortel 4
5211 HV Den Bosch
+31 73 6273680
© Print advertisment, PUMA RS-Computer Show, c.1986, PUMA archive.
© Helen Kirkum – Sneaker Archaeology, 2021. Helen Kirkum Studio. Photograph: Ed Reeve