Designer Sean O’Shea may have created his best Puma yet: the Hybrid Rocket. I caught up with O’Shea to discuss just how much technology went into this sneaker.
With a focus on cushioning, this latest Puma runner is much more interesting than many initially thought. Debuted in mid-July, the Hybrid Rocket sports a segmented three-piece midsole and three-piece EvoKNIT upper.
After speaking with O’Shea, we finally know how the three-piece midsole is designed to help with transition while running — and how the development team at Puma eliminated a stability piece many other brands consider necessary.
Sean, what was the goal in designing the Puma Hybrid Rocket?
Our goal was simple: create something sexy yet eye-catching. We already knew the foam would sell itself.
The shoe is a performance runner first, correct? How did you dial in the performance for something as linear as running? The cushioning seems to be a focus.
Yeah it’s definitely a running shoe. The team at Puma is amazing! The placement of the foams is strategic. Our goal was to enhance the cushioning so that it propelled the runner forward.
The Hybrid Foam in the heel absorbs the heel strike, the Energy Foam in the middle propels the foot forward with the right amount of support, while the Hybrid Foam under the forefoot creates a soft and gentle toe off for the runner. Feels natural.
What made you go for the segmented midsole? Is there a form and function approach here?
Yeah, we focused on the flex of the shoe to add a natural feel for a runner. You can see that in the three-pod design. If you cut the shoe in half length wise you will see a unique “wing” construction which allows the shoe to flex while keeping cushion under the foot. No TPU plate!
Other brands have tried pod construction but end up using a TPU shank pressed up against the foot. Pain! The Hybrid Rocket is flexible and comfortable. We were pretty proud of this solution. Thank you Puma Development and 3D Team!
That’s certainly innovative! Tell me about the upper — what made you go for this combination of materials?
On the upper I was trying to enhance the pod construction and comfort of the bottom. I was trying to give it some support in the heel but free the rest of the foot by deconstructing traditional shoe-making standards. I removed the toe box and most of the lining. I really wanted it to feel natural. Hopefully it feels good!
Did anything specific inform the design of this silhouette? It’s definitely modern.
Honestly, the Hybrid Foam is pretty compelling so I just tried to keep it simple and celebrate all that is happening with the outsole.
What else would you like people to know about the Hybrid Rocket?
This was a super fun project to work on. There was no limit on the pricing. We just wanted to get it right — sort of a dream project for a designer. Three or four designers sketched on it and the whole product team helped out. Puma has a great environment.
Thank you for your time Sean.
For a detailed look and review of this shoe check out Nightwing2303’s video below. The Puma Hybrid Rocket retails for $120 and is available for men and women in several colorways at Paragon Sports, Finish Line, and Puma.com.
Images courtesy of Sean O’Shea.