Sportswear brand On celebrates the connection between movement and creativity

At Art Basel 2022, on curated tours of the historic city’s greatest works of art, and continues to move people with its virtual Sound walks

Basel’s sweltering Messeplatz last month was packed with sweaty artists, collectors, gallerists and other attendees of the city’s annual art fair, back on schedule after two years of disruption linked to the pandemic. Amidst the heat, a particularly refreshing pit stop was provided by running shoe and sportswear brand On, which doused passers-by with cool water from its installation (dubbed ‘On Structure’) at the exterior of the fairgrounds.

Founded in 2010 by former Swiss Ironman champion Olivier Bernhard, alongside his friends David Allemann and Caspar Coppetti, On burst onto the sportswear scene with one goal: to revolutionize the feeling of running. Using unique cushioning technology – inspired by Bernhard’s experiments with a garden hose – she created running shoes with a soft landing and springy release. According to a study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, this technology has helped athletes run at significantly lower pulse rates and blood lactate levels over the years.

In 2020, however, On partnered with Art Basel for the first time, marking the next stage in its development from an exclusive sports brand to a clothing brand with a wider reach, crossing lifestyle, culture and diverse forms of creativity (see also: his collaborations with Loewe). As part of this partnership, On organized a tour of the Parcours sector of the art fair, which locates works of art – selected by Swiss curator Samuel Leuenberger – around the historic old town of Basel. Guided by renowned curator Gianni Jetzer, these tours returned this year, allowing visitors to explore site-specific facilities while taking On’s Cloudaway hybrid sneakers for a test walk.

At Art Basel 2022, Parcours offerings led Jetzer’s tour everywhere from an underground car park (the site of incisive Simon Starling AA’ BB’), to the banks of the Rhine, where Maria Loboda The Year of the Dangerous Life (2022) staged a series of replica artworks, as if washed ashore with plastic waste and driftwood. Eco-consciousness was a recurring theme, which is fitting given On’s commitment to sustainability. In order to fight climate change, the label is currently using recycled rubber and plastics while developing new and increasingly sustainable materials, such as foam padding. made from carbon emissions. This year, it also launched the Cloudneoits first 100% recyclable shoe available through a circularity subscription program.

True to its sporting roots, On has also found time to bring visitors to the great outdoors in Basel. On June 17, the brand invited a small group on one of its aptly named Walks of Life, taking them to the forest outside Basel to watch the performance artist Salome Chatriot mix art, technology and nature, and enjoy a happening-slash-meal from concept artist Sandra Knecht.

Don’t worry if you missed it. To shorten the wait for the December iteration of Art Basel in Miami, We also continue to offer virtual nature walks through our Sound Walks. With versions based on the three cities of Art Basel – Basel, Miami and Hong Kong – these walks include crisp, soothing visuals and ambient soundscapes, mixed with real nature sounds. Best of all, they’re motion-activated, meaning you’re encouraged to move (a core tenet of On’s philosophy) in order to enjoy them.

Try the sound walks for yourself here.

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About Lonnie G. Mitchell

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