It’s About Time

John Maeda’s Timetanium sneaker for Reebok was inspired, in part, by the idea of simplicity. Maeda is something of an expert on the subject. The computer artist and MIT professor, recently named the next president of the Rhode Island School of Design, wrote The Laws of Simplicity, which outlines ten mantras for the chronically harried. When Reebok approached Maeda to design a sneaker, he created a polygonal graphic based on his third law: savings in time feel like simplicity.

“You have these flowing lines around the shoe, evoking this idea of time as your eyes travel across it,” Maeda says. The graphic grows progressively simpler, fading from the heel’s multicolor swirls to a monochromatic swoop across the toe. The metallic look was inspired by the titanium panels of the Gug­genheim Museum Bilbao, and the computer code that gen­erated the graphic is printed on the lining and insole. Actually, for a shoe based on simplicity it seems pretty, well, complicated. “It’s a little bit pimped up,” Maeda admits.

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