Test bed for sports equipment designers, the running shoe must meet very high technical requirements as well as style. We talked about it with Giampaolo Allocco, founder of the Delineodesig studio

In a sector where a gram, a centimeter or a fraction of a second more or less can make the difference, the design project is decisive. It is therefore no longer just a question of finding a good balance between form and function.

In performance design, you add performance. The world of sports equipment is a very complex one.

When dealing with a sporting or industrial theme, the project does not exclusively concern a study of the product, but includes a part of research, which has its own design autonomy.

In the field of design for sport, in addition to the aspects of innovation linked to techniques and the use of materials, market trends need to be studied and analysed.

Sport is, in fact, increasingly linked to fashion.

Sport itself is a trend and a fundamental aspect of sports equipment is the aesthetic aspect. There is no exclusively inspirational approach. Compared to the furniture sector, in the sports field you can't go wrong with a product because this is the result of an articulated process where you work in close contact with dealers, athletes and marketing.

This is confirmed by Giampaolo Allocco, a Venetian designer who, after taking his first self-taught steps, founded the studio Delineodesign, who has been working for the industry for years designing from helicopters to ski boots, from trail running shoes to bicycles passing through gardening and food.

“The 90s were the most successful time for winter sports,” says Giampaolo Allocco. With an industrial expert diploma, I started working as a designer in some local companies involved in the sports equipment supply chain.

I got there after having worked as an apprentice in a printing house (technical steel moulds) and as a prototype maker.

I was still young and, after another experience as a mold designer, I joined a large sports company: Dalbello SKi Boots.”

At 25, however, Giampaolo feels the need to go back to studying and to distance himself from the technical world in which he was inserted. He enrolled at the Italian School of Design in Padua, where he later obtained a Master's degree, and opened his own studio in 2000.

The beginnings were significant: in Formula One for Minardi.

Then, after a passage through furniture and light, Delineodesign has designed for the digital world technological, tractors, helicopters, and an infinite number of ski and snowboard boots , for ski mountaineering and trail running, and again for cycling where they still work today.

This approach has been termed cross fertilization and customers seem to believe in this evolutionary path.

Among the many sectors in which the studio is present, that of performance design is emblematic of a rigorous but always innovative method. Let's take the case of a pair of trail running shoes designed for Scarpa, the Italian sports footwear company.

The trail is a bit like the formula one of running.

In fact, while in road running, the aspects of the terrain are quite constant, in trail running, there are many things to take into account: the gradients to cover, the wet, dry and rocky terrains. Trail is the most heroic discipline of running and trail shoes are considered the most advanced in the sector: like tires for riders.

A trail running shoe has many material and technological aspects which must be taken into account.

“If you look at the shoe from the side, there is an area called the upper which corresponds to the external surface of the shoe, squeezed between the well-fastened closure and the external sole. That's where trail running shoes need to be reinforced,” explains Giampaolo Allocco.

"This means that the design of the upper is not made up only of a decoration, but also of a support", continues the designer. “The upper shouldn't be made with a soft, stretchy fabric that sags and collapses.

The reinforcements are in fact intended to maintain the seal. The design of the uppers is therefore a design that reinforces the very structure of the shoe.”

Another element to take into consideration in the running shoe design is the distance for which it is designed. Let's take an ultra trail shoe, the long distance, over 50 km, therefore a highly stressed shoe.

Ultra trail shoes are shoes characterized by good cushioning, which is mainly given by the midsole (midsole in English). The midsole is that element positioned above the tread - that is the rubber part that touches the road - right between the foot and the rubberized part and which, generally made of EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate), it has the fundamental task of cushioning the weight during the race.

For short runs, meaning those between 10 and 20 km, you need a fairly neutral midsole, because you don't need excessive cushioning.

On a slim-bodied athlete, this cushioning is also good over longer distances, while a more robust physique needs a more cushioned midsole, even for short distances.

In sectors where performance is decisive, such as in the sport system, design is not immediately visible but it makes the difference in terms of methods and processes.