By Dean Dexter
The Charlotte Cummings Memorial Sneaker Collection project was one that I really enjoyed working on. Charlotte Cummings, Mr. Cummings’ late wife, ran her family’s sporting goods store. In the mid-eighties when Nike first released the original Air Jordan, Charlotte began setting aside pairs for safe keeping. “Just wait” she would tell her husband, “Michael Jordan is something special.”
That vision resulted in Charlotte building the second largest collection of Nike Air Jordans on exhibit in the country. The Cummings collection includes 536 pairs of sneakers, including 12 complete sets of original Air Jordan shoes, as well as memorabilia displays of Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Bo Jackson, The Birmingham Barons, and Andre Agassi. The memorabilia includes game-worn and signed shoes and game issued signed jersey and pants by Michael Jordan as well as a game-worn jersey by Barkley. The collection also included close to 50 original framed Nike posters.
Mr. Cummings approached Phillip Yonfa to design an exhibit to house this amazing collection. Mr. Yonfa came to us, and we couldn’t have been more excited about the opportunity. He knew that we had the skill and expertise to help turn his vision for this exhibit into a reality. Over the course of three months, we built display shelves, cabinets, and museum cases to house this amazing collection.
One of the biggest obstacles that we had to overcome to make this a reality was to build this as a traveling exhibit. This meant that all the cases, shelves, and parts would need to be mobile and be disassembled easily and transport well. We worked closely with Mr. Yonfa to ensure that the vision behind these displays was maintained and the parts could easily be moved wherever they needed to be displayed.
Under Phillip’s direction, we built in a number of innovations into the display to make them look and function better. Yonfa wanted to illuminate all the shoes with a soft glow of light. This meant that lighting would need to be uniform and be behind all the shoes. We integrated a standard LED light box into the back of each of the display cabinets. This was then covered with a simple white fabric sheet that acted as the diffuser. We also used a lightweight metal back panel to cover the back mechanicals in each cabinet. We covered these panels in a graphic wrap made to simulate a basketball court floor. The results speak for themselves.
Warehouse Twenty One is proud to have been a part of this project. What has been created will have Sneakerheads, sports fanatics, pop-culture history buffs, and everyone in between impressed with the result. This story started with a woman who had real vision and foresight and has now become a glimpse into sports history and American Sneaker culture that is truly amazing.