New Balance just released an interview with ultramarathon runner Tony Krupicka and New Balance shoe designer Chris Wawrousek that talks about the iterative design process behind the NB Minimus Trail shoe. The post includes the leaked video of Anton Krupicka and the New Balance NB Minimus Trail and it looks like New Balance has also released a few more close-up photos of the Minimus (see our old photo-mash-up of the Minimus Trail here).
We'll dive into this latest installment of the New Balance NB Minimus 2011 release after the jump.
A cross-section of a New Balance NB Minimus prototype shows reduced sole and minimal drop from heel to toe
Here's an interesting snippet from the interview:
NB.com: So, is this an iterative process in which Tony gets a new pair of shoes and gives feedback, and Chris' team takes that feedback and makes adjustments? How does the actual collaborative process work?
TK: “I got some pretty early prototypes of the NB Minimus, and all they were was this rudimentary sole with the upper from the 100 so that I could run in them. Actually, even before that I got what was really just the last. Really, it was more like a slipper. That was super early in the process. We hadn't even really been thinking about the shoe yet, we just had a last. From there, they sent me some CAD drawings, and I would comment on them and send them back. So from my end, it's been pretty integrated between us from the start.”
CW: “Sometimes in my mind, it’s hard to separate out what NB Minimus is today from this whole field of research that we’ve been doing for a number of years, since our Advanced Concepts team identified natural running as a focal point. Those early prototypes were really a test bed for understanding What does it mean if you change the heel to toe drop from 6mm to 3mm to 0mm, and how does that change people's running?”
It's really encouraging to hear Chris' thought process behind designing the NB Minimus: how will this change people's running? Really, isn't that the ultimate question when you go from the foot in it's natural condition — completely naked, bare — and slap something onto the bottom and top? If you aren't asking how a shoe will change the way people run, the chances you'll actually design a foot friendly shoe are about zero to none (see our Barefoot Running Shoes guide for discussion on what this means). Great to hear the Senior Designer behind the Minimus speak to this point.
And though we've known Tony Krupicka has been working with NB, that his field-tested input got injected into the Minimus line should go a long way to the final product being functional. Just how "barefoot" it will be is yet to see. Will it allow for barefoot style running? How will the ground feel be?
Go on and head over to newbalance.com and read the whole interview. Then tell us what you think about the 2011 New Balance NB Minimus: is NB on the right track here or will this just be another foot coffin? Sound off below!