Nike’s giant World Cup balls up

How (and why) Leicester-based Ratcliffe Fowler Design helped Nike create a sculpture out of 5,500 footballs in a South African shopping centre

How (and why) Leicester-based Ratcliffe Fowler Design helped Nike create a sculpture out of 5,500 footballs in a South African shopping centre

Ball Man stands 20 metres high in the Carlton Mall Atrium in Johannesburg. He is the centrepiece of a Nike installation promoting the firm’s kits and boots for the World Cup. He is also the result of over a year’s work by Ratcliffe Fowler and Nike’s Global Creative Football team.

The sculpture uses 5,500 ‘Brasilian Skill Balls” – smaller, heavier versions of regular footballs used to practice skills with – and is, roughly, based on Carlos Tevez. The balls are held together using 10km of cable with the whole thing weighing in at 4.75 tons.

These early prototype shots show a miniature version of the sculpture constructed in the studio

In order to make sure the whole thing worked, says Ratcliffe Fowler’s Richard Liverman, the studio set up a series of tests in the somewhat less glamorous surroundings of a Rotherham power station. There they tested the structure against accidental impacts and other eventualities that might result in problems.

 

 

The sculpture is up until the end of the tournament, after which there are plans to give the balls to local schoolchildren.

 

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