Zhijun Wang is not a stranger to Those NBs. We interviewed him before when he released a projects such as the custom MT580 “Panda“, 1600 “Pigeon” and the HS77 “Dragon Boat Festival.” Read and check the gallery above to learn more about his newest creation called the New Balance “Zante Mask.” (Photography by Shaoping Wang and the models are Aria Duann and Zhijun Wang)
Since we last talked you have been pretty busy, we see you have been working on new masks as of this year, what inspires you to make masks?
You know I am an amateur runner, always run in the inner city of Beijing, the hazardous air pollution issue is getting harmful to health. All of this series NB Masks came from quite a simple idea, Sneakers are lightweight, durable and breathable. The materials used in the Zante allow our feet to breathe efficiently, so I thought it’s possible to make a mask out of them to protect the respiratory as well.
What do they represent?
It’s a new opportunity to let people all over the world to notice the worsening air pollution issue in China.
What do you want viewers to get when they see your mask?
From my perspective, anything is possible from daily life. Ideas come out when I really think about things earnestly.
Are they going to be for sale?
All the masks were made by hand, each mask spent me almost a week. The masks are not going to be for sale by now.
They contain not only my idea but also its each significance, quite difficult to set a price. If it’s possible to push to bulk in future, that would be fantastic to share with more people.
How many do you make when you make a mask?
I only handcrafted one piece for each edition.
What is your process in making a mask?
In the making process of this Zante Mask, all materials come from the newest running shoes. After dissected the upper vamp, removed the foam inside to reduce weight, punched holes for adapting the valves. Then restructured the different parts together with my original idea.
Are they strictly art pieces?
I think they are not just art pieces, because its unique function and design. They are also creative-handcrafts, could be used for daily running.
Would you ever incorporate a breathing devices inside the mask so they can be used to wear out socially or even to block smog?
After the first edition of my Zante Mask, I found the key issue of breathing part, then redesigned the structure of mask, added a pair of Respro valve to solve the problem, make breathing much easier. The masks were well adapted with both Respro Valve and anti PM2.5 filter inside, also could be used to wear out socially and block smog.
The Zante Masks were tested by my girlfriend Aria and me at the Color Run 2015 in Beijing, pretty nice effect.
What else can we expect from you and New Balance?
Glad to share some of the behind the scenes stories with you. Pls stay tuned to see what happened next.