Somewhere in the middle of explaining the thinking behind the design of the upper for a new minimalist running shoe, Drew Nyssen has gotten stuck on pin art. "Those toys with the metal pins that take the form of whatever you put against them", explains the Senior Designer in New Balance's Advanced Products Group, "every pin represents a point of geometry — and it's this combination of geometry and nature that's at the heart of what we're trying to do with the design of NB Minimus. I think you really see it on the Minimus Zero."
"There's a lot of truth in what you see on the bottom of shoes" says Chris Wawrousek, and he — of all people — is in a pretty good position to know. Seated in a back corner on the 5th floor of the New Balance Design Center in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Chris is literally surrounded by this truth in the form of the hundreds of prototyped, well-worn and yet-to-be-tried shoes that line the halls. Today, though, he's focused on four pair of shoes in particular: a pair of MT100's well-loved and hand-carved by ultramarathoner Anton Krupicka, a hybrid pair of MT100's fixed with a prototype sole from what would become NB Minimus, a pair of NB Minimus Trail shoes, and the shoes that brought us to the Design Center — the forthcoming NB Minimus Zero Trail.
Our NB Minimus line offers an invigorating, award-winning, closer-to-barefoot experience with a dramatically lower heel-to-midfoot drop than traditional running shoes. In March 2012, at running stores across the country, we will extend the much talked-about NB Minimus line with the arrival of NB Minimus Zero – new road, trail and wellness shoes that continue to deliver that minimal, light and right experience, but with a 0mm heel-to-midfoot drop. This is a feature that many of the most vocal members of the NewBalance.com community, many of them experienced natural runners, have asked about. We asked New Balance SBU Manager for Performance Running and Outdoor, Katherine Petrecca, who introduced us to NB Minimus the first time around, to help us get up to speed on what we can expect.
While much of the development of New Balance's forthcoming NB Minimus footwear line took place inside the Lawrence, Mass., labs, many of the insights that informed the design were gleaned some 1,800 miles to the west, in the hills outside of Boulder, Colo. NewBalance.com talked with Senior Designer Chris Wawrousek and Team New Balance ultramarathoner Anton Krupicka, who helped test and develop NB Minimus, about how the pursuit of the ideal minimalist shoe was driven by perpetual prototyping.
As was made obvious by the response generated by our article on barefoot running, a significant portion of the New Balance community is curious about a more minimalist approach to running. At New Balance, we get excited about anything that enhances the running experience, so when we had the opportunity to talk to Katherine Petrecca, who is managing the upcoming NB Minimus collection, we jumped at the chance.