A strategic designer at BCG Digital Ventures in Los Angeles, alumnus Aarish Netarwala (MS 17 Industrial Design) spent the summer of his final year at ArtCenter in an Adidas Sponsored Project, where he and his classmates were tasked with imagining the future of sports.
His answer was Grit, a shoe with a 3D-printed lattice sole that replicates the intense workout of running on sand. The design was inspired by Manhattan Beach’s Sand Dune Park, whose steep sandy hills attract professional athletes like Kevin Durant. “The park grew so popular they had to shut it down and reopen it with a reservation system,” said Netarwala in a story for Dezeen. “I wanted to understand what drove people there.”
Grit is the first of its kind, creating a new category of training shoes that caters to the physical needs of athletes today.
Netarwala interviewed several athletes at both Sand Dune Park and Manhattan Beach and one expert, a beach volleyball Olympian and US coach, explained to him the many benefits of exercising on sand. One of the most important benefits? Sand absorbs impact from the bones, which prevents the athlete from getting injured.
When Netarwala got down to designing the actual shoe, one of his main goals was to create a shoe that dissipates energy when the foot strikes the ground, resulting in quickly fatigued leg muscles. “This is the opposite of training shoes on the market today that return energy to the user,” wrote Netarwala in his entry of Grit into the 2018 Core 77 Design Awards, where he was named an honoree in the consumer product category. “This is a new philosophy for footwear where designs traditionally cater to enabling the athlete to perform better.”
Netarwala went on to experiment with different materials and techniques, including prototypes that used magnetic sand bags glued to the shoe’s sole. “Some failed prototypes were made using materials like kinetic rock and playdough in the sole,” he wrote in his Core 77 entry page.
He eventually landed on using lattice for the sole for its ability to collapse and dissipate energy. His final concept wedded a fabric-knit sock and a 3D-printed recyclable lattice sole. Grit would also leverage Adidas’ Futurecraft 3D printing platform to provide a personalized fit for each customer based on their biometric data.
“No shoe on the market today addresses the need and benefits of resistance training,” wrote Netarwala. “Grit is the first of its kind, creating a new category of training shoes that caters to the physical needs of athletes today.”