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A Leap in Time with Jumpman

The one constant about NikeTown stores’ ever-changing showcases is that each new jaw-dropping display is sure to wow shoppers. The latest theme in the New York, San Francisco and Chicago flagship stores pays homage to Space Jam, that legendary sci-fi comedy starring King of the Court Michael Jordan, a host of b-ball all-stars and a cast of animated characters. Of course, Jordan basketball gear occupies the center of this court. Nike has called on satis&fy to put its visionary design ideas into practice since 2014 in NYC, and of late recently in Chicago, San Francisco and Santa Monica as well.

Here’s a quick synopsis for readers who were too young to have seen Space Jam the first time around, and a recap for everyone else: Nefarious alien ‘Monstars’ face off against Bugs Bunny and a Looney Tunes squad in a winner-take-all basketball bout with His Airness and other NBA heavyweights joining in. No spoiler alert here, but readers familiar with the laws of the entertainment universe can guess who comes out on top.

Time is always tight and expectations are high in these projects. “You’d think that it would give us an edge to have been doing this for a while. You’d be wrong,” says Ray Lederer, head of Event Architecture at satis&fy. “We don’t do much copying and pasting. Sometimes we have to reinvent the wheel, and that calls for elaborate measures, developing prototypes and doing a lot of complicated testing before we can make and set up the finished gadgetry. It’s all very exciting, but sometimes it robs you of your sleep.”

The main attraction was the famous Jumpman logo rendered as a 4.5 by 4.5 meter back-and-front-lighted LED sign rigged to appear to be floating free in the atrium. It wasn’t the easiest prop to design and build, so the crew’s nervous energy was palpable when this monumental yet finely wrought slab of signage was set upright and hoisted heavenward. “Our design and production teams’ calculations were, as always, on the money, and the logo indeed flew from the ceiling on extra-thin cables as planned. This project was a real first for us.

The New York showcase was set up by satis&fy, LLC. External service providers were hired to do the same for the two other NikeTown stores in the Windy City and SF. The crew crafted modular, strippeddown versions of the NYC set to be shipped out with all the trimmings for local assembly and installation. Other ‘stellar’ custom builds included remarkably realistic faux meteorites and a model of the Moon. Mimicking the lunar surface is not something designers do every day, so they decided to get the details right: First, they dipped a bucket in NASA’s deep well of 3D data sourced from Earth’s barren satellite; then they applied these data to host objects. “We’re particularly proud of the moon sphere at the entrance,” says Ray, but the meteorites that serve as display pillars on
the sales floor are no less convincing.

Another highlight was the spacey 3D infinity installation featuring Jumpman. It took some finesse to fine-tune the mix of technology and decorations so as to achieve the intended effect. As Ray recalls it, “The neon Jumpman was a very late addition. We had all of eight days to deliver this Jumpman and his two teammates. As a multinational, we’re able to call on design teams in different time zones, and they got the job done with flawless timing. My thanks go out to everyone who was on board, and especially to my crewmates Benjamin Obholzer and Kim Leinum.”


Photos: Dorothy Hong

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