Wang Zhijun is a designer and artist from Beijing whose main medium is sneakers. A self-professed sneakerhead, Zhijun remembers his biggest dream as a kid was to create his own pair of beautiful sneakers. Since then, he started designing and modifying his favorite styles in his spare time. He has created custom editions of Nike Air Force 1’s, New Balances, Pumas, Asics, among many others, and works from time to time with brands to create unique sneaker designs.
生活在北京的王志钧，是一位以运动鞋为主要创作媒介的设计师、艺术家。自诩运动鞋狂热者的他，仍记得小时候最大的梦想就是能拥有一双自己设计的漂亮运动鞋。自那以后，志钧开始利用闲暇时间不停设计完善自己最喜欢的鞋款。他已经完成了Nike Air Force 1、New Balance、Puma、Asics等的定制鞋，也时常和品牌合作设计特别款。
His creations often look and feel as if they’ve just come straight out of the factory, even though they are 100% handmade by Zhijun. Working out of his apartment, he deconstructs, sews, paints, and assembles every piece by hand. The level of detail reveals the painstaking process of Wang’s craft that has been refined over the years, which involved learning how to sew and gaining a sense of intuition about materials and design.
Growing up in Beijing as a child of the 80s, Zhijun is nostalgic for the memories of his youth in the capital city. With the rapid pace of city life today, he feels that “a lot of young Chinese people no longer have a sense of identity or have any idea of how generations before them used to live.” With this in mind, he often integrates Chinese elements and references to Beijing in his work. “I don’t want just to copy something that is Western, I want to express my own culture and where I’m from.” Using traditional sewing techniques and materials, his designs mix themes of pop culture and consumerism with Chinese cultural elements and motifs.
In 2014, Zhijun stopped running, as pollution in the city got worse and worse. In thinking about how to express his frustration and reflect on these issues, however, he started disassembling sneakers and making face masks from them. The face masks have military-grade filters and are crafted from new, unworn sneakers.
Zhijun says, “A lot of people think, why would you waste a pair of expensive, highly sought-after sneakers and turn them into a mask? But I wanted to change the way that they are perceived, and give them more life and meaning rather than just as objects to buy and put on a shelf at home. I’m also someone who likes to go out and buy new things, but I still want to try to highlight these problems so that more young people think about them.”
Contributor, Videographer & Photographer: Jia Li