The Third Floor

Sneakers Unboxed

Welcome to the Third Floor of the Sneaker Unboxed exhibition!

The sneaker has quickly become the most widespread design object in the world. The Sneakers Unboxed exhibition invites you to take a behind-the-scenes look at the shoe that brought technological breakthroughs, inspired new youth cultures and turned the fashion world upside down. You can read, hear and see all of this on this page.


Sneaker anatomy

Few objects are as universal or as diverse as the sneaker. Which is one reason why the sneaker has become the undisputed cultural symbol of our times, bridging culture, design, fashion, music and technology.



Sneaker culture has become ubiquitous thanks largely to the influence of young people from diverse inner-city neighbourhoods. They have been instrumental in elevating sneakers from pure sportswear to sought-after icons of style.



Most sports shoes that we now consider groundbreaking arose from solving core design concerns, such as traction, fit, stability, cushioning and energy return can help to improve athletic performance. Designers continually engage with new technologies and emerging research in sports science.


Tipping point

In the 1990s, a handful of streetwear aficionados managed to get the big sports brands to re-release older models. Major sports brands ventured outside their comfort zone, entering into exclusive partnerships with small retailers and progressive fashion designers.


Sustainability and circular design

Sneaker production is exceptionally carbon-intensive. A typical pair of running shoes generates approximately 13.6kg of CO2 emissions. There is a multitude of promising projects underway to address these issues, including innovation in materials and manufacturing, a concerted effort to repair and recycle, and a greater understanding of circular design.