Taschen’s latest coffee table book is sure to get sneakerheads buzzing.
The German publisher known for its glossy tomes has dedicated its latest launch to the ongoing collaboration between Virgil Abloh and Nike. Titled Icons, the book is an armchair retrospective that explores not just the look of each shoe the partnership has birthed but also documents the inspiration that sparked them, charting the creative process from prototype to completion. All of this is shown through elements of the extensive Nike archive as well as actual notes Abloh sent to the Nike design team.
“The foundation of my practice isn’t nearly the end result—it’s rigor and process of the logic,” Abloh said in a statement. “The archive is the paper trail of those artifacts. The Icons book is, in a way, the only revealing lens to understand that the catalog of the 50-plus Nike shoes I have designed are in my mind ‘one shoe.’ One story.”
Much of the title’s content is underpinned by The Ten, a design project which saw Abloh reinterpret 10 of Nike’s most famous silhouettes in his signature style. That venture began during the designer’s first visit to Nike headquarters in 2016 where he immediately set to work rebuilding a pair of triple-black Air Force 1 low-tops with an X-Acto knife and marker. “What we’re talking about here is larger than sneakers, it’s larger than design culture,” Abloh said in a statement about the project at the time. “It’s nothing short of state-of-the-art design.”
Art directed by Zak Group, the neon green book is something of an art object in and of itself, which is precisely the point. From its construction to the kind of paper used, it embodies the artful DIY process Abloh favors with each element enhancing the text to which everyone from writer Troy Patterson to curator and historian Glenn Adamson contributed.