• Rendered view of fiber-optic lighting ducts from below.

  • Photograph of Genealogy of Speed exhibition.

  • Photograph of Genealogy of Speed exhibition.

  • Photograph of Genealogy of Speed exhibition.

Display Environment 1: The Genealogy of Speed




Exhibition Design

servo in collaboration with Stephen Kinder Design Partnership and Karen Kimmel

Reconfigurable exhibition design for The Genealogy of Speed, commissioned by Nike.

Project Description

The Genealogy of Speed is a private exhibition sponsored by Nike featuring thirty of the company’s most technologically innovative shoes from its 32-year history. The primary focus of the exhibition is to create a dynamic spatial catalogue of these shoes, exposing their individual design technology as well as specific performance criteria related to athletic records.

Working in collaboration with the graphic design firm SKDP and the artist Karen Kimmel, servo developed an exhibition infrastructure incorporating fiber-optic lighting technology and vacuum-formed acrylic panel systems to explore the resonance between material and formal systems and their distributional and indexical capacities. In this case the display system is reconfigurable, allowing for multiple curatorial desires to transform the exhibition’s narrative over time. This temporal flexibility, which incorporates aspects of speed at an operative scale as well as a thematic one, allows for a continual transformation of the exhibition infrastructure on both a material and an organizational level.

The exhibition infrastructure includes a display system and a ceiling system.  The display system is comprised of vertically oriented acrylic tubes, or stalactites, each of which contains a single shoe. The basic diagnostics of each shoe are sandblasted onto the tubes, collapsing a graphic informational environment related to content with the shoes themselves.  An adjustable docking condition allows these stalactites to be removed for redistribution into one of three clusters.  The result is a reconfigurable display system that allows the display material to be mixed and remixed according to a number of different organizing principles such as color or sole design.

The stalactites plug into a suspended ceiling system comprised of vacuum-formed acrylic conduits, each of which also provides for the distribution of fiber-optic lighting cables throughout the gallery. Fourteen unique shapes comprise the entire ceiling system of 104 vacuum-formed acrylic parts, each approximately seven feet long and ranging from 4 – 16 inches deep.  Organized into larger strands, they distribute the fiber-optic infrastructure which then drips down and into the vertical elements, reaching the tips of the shoes and spot-lighting them for viewing. The organization of these acrylic conduits responds to the existing ceiling conditions by inflecting to navigate beams and ceiling joists. The cross-braiding and inflection of these conduits simultaneously impacts the way in which the display stalactites are arrayed and suspended in the space. Their distribution produces three primary zones where the stalactites gather into a group, forming a display cluster.  Located under existing ceiling beams, these clusters alternate spatially with a series of floor-oriented furniture elements, providing residual resting space for the gallery’s users.

Project Credits

servoin collaboration with Stephen Kinder Design Partnership and Karen Kimmel

Exhibition Design


David Erdman, Marcelyn Gow, Ulrika Karlsson, Chris Perry

Design Team: Julianna Morais, Mike Mangiagli, Jason McCann, Jeremy Whitener, Shlomi Kagan

Additional Renderings: Murat Mutlu


Jenelle Porter with SKDP/Karen Kimmel


Apparel and Event Design

Karen Kimmel

Environmental Graphics


Graham Hill, John Kieselhorst, Jenelle Porter, Conny Purtill


Installation Consultants

Tomas Osinski Design

Critter Pierce

Fabrication Consultants

Aria Group – CNC milling (foam molds)

Warner Brothers Construction (Vacuum Forming)

Pierose Productions (Sand Blasting)

Solter Plastics

Fiber Optic Lighting Consultants

Robert Morais

Vladimir Rubtsov

Glass Illuminations Inc.