2003 Annual Design Review Consumer Products Best of Category
SUPERCROSSE LACROSSE GLOVE
For most design students, the senior thesis marks the end of education, then they look for a job. For Kyle Lamson, designer and lacrosse player, his senior thesis—a novel reimagining of the lacrosse glove—turned out to be the job. Not only was Lamson hired by sports-equipment maker Brine of Milford, Mass., but his design, the Supercrosse, became the flagship of the company’s lacrosse line. “If Kyle’s professors had been lacrosse players,” a company representative notes, “he might have gotten a better grade.”
Jurors loved the glove and the Horatio Alger-esque story behind it. “The design comes from the heart,” Constantine said. “He designed it, sold it to the company and now works there. It’s the greatest success story.”
Traditionally, sports gloves are made with protective “pockets” on the back of each finger, which are then stuffed with stiff foam blocks. With protection, however, comes a loss in dexterity. The Supercrosse allows the fingers to bend with their natural skeletal formation, employing individually sewn packets that feature compression-molded carbon-fiber padding at each joint, an idea borrowed from motocross racing gloves. This armor-inspired approach allows greater freedom of movement and less bulk.
Typically, lacrosse gloves are designed to be bigger than the hand. The Supercrosse entails a smaller pattern, using only what’s required for protective materials. Therefore, the glove sits closer to the hand and shifts less during play. (Lamson notes it wouldn’t appeal to hockey players, whose first test of a glove is to be able to quickly toss them on the ground.) Additionally, an inverted ‘U’ shape fastened to the glove’s backhand with elastic straps, and then covered with a forearm cuff, allows more fluid wrist motion without sacrificing protection.
The Supercrosse reinvents traditional cut-and-sew techniques, taking a fresh approach to a product that has seen much adaptation but little innovation. This required as much an understanding of the game of lacrosse as it did the nuances of human-factors design. Villano summed it up best: “The design came from someone with real knowledge.” Tom Vanderbilt
Q&A WITH KYLE LAMSON
Lacrosse is one of the oldest known games in America. What prompted you to suddenly design a radical new glove? The original motivation derived from being a player and a designer. It wasn’t enough for me to put on my gloves and accept that they were big, bulky, loose and sloppy fitting, so I started asking why. The first three months of the project focused on research—dissecting current gloves to figure out how they were built, finding new materials, looking for parallels in other sports or types of gloves. I looked at medieval armor, Samurai armor, motorcycle racing gloves, mountain biking gloves, scuba-diving gloves. When it came time to design the Supercrosse at Brine, this research was the portion of my thesis that was used the most. I took all that I learned from the research and design of my thesis glove and applied it back to traditional cut-and-sew fabrication.
Did you look to any new technologies with the design? The SuperCrosse is more about form and function than it is about new technologies. The glove is designed to sit much closer to the hand, and the pattern breakup follows the hand’s biomechanics. Besides the overall size of the glove, the manufacturing of the fingers is the biggest departure. Each of the pieces of the fingers and thumb is sewn together individually. The molded cap, foam block and covering fabric are assembled individually, and then each is sewn down to the edges of the backhand. By individualizing each piece, all the elements are able to move independently—which gives you much greater mobility. The way the finger pieces overlap also adds to the dexterity. By covering the gap between the pads, this overlap allows the pads to be spaced farther apart, giving more flexibility.
Did you have any aesthetic goals in mind? Without being overly flashy, this material gives a really rich and updated look that stands out from other gloves on the market. We also took a very different branding approach. Traditionally, lacrosse gloves are brand billboards with a large logo across the back. We equated this glove to a high-end sports car, one that didn’t require a huge brand logo to be recognized. We took a much more subtle product and brand-logo approach, allowing the design and materials to speak for themselves.
How did you test the gloves? Sample products were tested in games, as well as around the office. Along with myself, quite a few of us in the office are players; several play in the new pro league. So the gloves go out to indoor-league games, summer-league games, etc. After initial testing, we often get further help from some of the college partner program teams that we sponsor, such as Duke, Virginia, University of North Carolina, Notre Dame and Syracuse. We also showed them to some of our key retail accounts for feedback.
BIO Kyle Lamson is a designer at Brine Inc., based in Milford, Mass. In 2000, he received his bachelor’s degree in industrial design from Boston’s Wentworth Institute of Technology, where he played for four years on the varsity lacrosse team.
CLIENT Brine Inc., Milford, Mass. DESIGN Kyle Lamson, Milford, Mass. MATERIALS | FABRICATION Glove: PU micro-fiber synthetic leather; finger pieces: injection-molded EVA; knuckle pads: compression-molded carbon fiber with thermoplastic top sheet SOFTWARE Adobe Illustrator