Friday, February 5, 2016

Mike Friton

Back in 2005 (ish) I visited the Technitex show in Frankfurt in my capacity as a Visiting Research Fellow for the Smart Clothes & Wearable Technology research group in the University of Wales, Newport.  Whilst pausing for a much needed coffee break I got chatting to a gentleman called Mike Friton sat next to me at the coffee bar.  When I said that I was a weaver, his eyes lit up and he asked if I'd like to see some handwoven cloth he'd made.  From his rucksack he unravelled a length of cloth woven with an undulating weft!  I then discovered he was one of the senior designer-innovators at the Nike 'Innovation Kitchen', responsible for some of the most iconic footwear developments, including the braided footwear.  It was fantastic to speak to someone with a passion for textile construction, who'd taught himself to weave in order to explore how to create more mouldable fabrics from the footwear perspective.
(c) Mike Friton
Above you can see some one his on-loom experiments, with the curved reed he made for his loom.
We stayed in touch, and a few months later it was with great pleasure that I was able to introduce him to Peter Collingwood to discuss warp and weft threads not following the expected linear vertical and horizontal paths. 

Mike Friton Sneaker Innovator

Mike now works independently, although still consults for Nike and other footwear companies.  Making is at the core of how he designs and innovates - as well as weaving, braiding, origami and kirigami are some of the methods he uses to develop ideas. You can find out more about him in this wonderful short film, and of course on his website.


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