Meet The Man Behind the Jordan Designs: Tinker Hatfield

Business magnate and philanthropist Phil Knight may be responsible for putting Nike on the map as the brand’s co-founder and chairman, but elusive Nike designer Tinker Hatfield practically revolutionized the footwear game with his Air Jordan designs.

Designing every pair of game-worn Jordans since 1988, Hatfield spoke to GQ‘s Mark Anthony Green to discuss his work pattern and collaborating with His Airness, Michael Jordan. See an excerpt below.

The Flames Less Traveled
“The Jordan V was partly inspired by flames painted on a World War II plane. Michael and I used to talk about zigging while everybody else was zagging, so I made the flames point forward, not back.”

Missed Opportunities
“At one point, I pushed for a less sporty sub-brand called Jordan Beyond. When Michael did SNL in ’91, he wore a Jordan Beyond quilted green jacket. But I couldn’t make it happen. I’ve still got some samples, including a basketball shoe that was perforated like a wingtip.”

De-Office the Office
“When you’re a designer trying to think of new ideas, you need a space that’s off-the-wall and different. This book, A Pattern Language, which I read while studying architecture, explains why: An environment’s design gives you cues about how it’s used.”

Canon for an architect.

Work…Just Not at Work
“I never design during business hours. It’s too distracting. I might do a few sketches, but almost all the drawings are done at night or on the weekends.”

When inspiration strikes.

Click here to read Green’s story on Hatfield in its entirety.—Ralph Bristout (@XXLRalph)