sourcing the felt…

Industrial 100% wool felt was sourced from the high quality company Damier Filtz in Germany.  The quality of the felt is far superior.  The company has an understanding and  sensitivity not only to the production of the felt but also to the application of the material in innovative designs.  The colours are stunning but for my applications I needed to use smaller quantities of stock 5mm felt.

Damier Filtz shade card

Damier Filtz shade card

Structure and process as design…

I now realise what I am interested in is rapid production and equally natural materials. It may seem regressive but it is essential to explore material and what opportunities are inherinet in the material properties to allow for customization.  Natural materials are alive, mellow, wear and with them we form emotional connections.  The Fashion Footwear industry is a very mature market where  structures have evolved from specific industrial machines and these structures drive the designs.

If we move to a designs informed purely by process and we use natural materials what are we left with?  Here are some initial explorations of structure.  The last I chose from Springline followed the natural curve of the foot.

tapped top view last from Springline

last on cork heel

I wanted to wrap the footbead/insole around the arch to make it more pleasurable. I found every time I made a board insole it seemed to start to dictate the structure. Insole, heel and upper this is what Marloes spoke of as what she aims to do is to not think of structure in this way. So I started working with leather insoles.  Heather kept directing further research and suggested looking at Ferragamo. Mark suggested looking at Openka constructions.

Opanke sole Ferragamo

initial thinking on parts

wish it could be this direct

sole wraps around cork heel acting as harness

opanke insole and felt sock

Diamer Felt 5mm insole - holes punched to allow for spreading of material to mold into foot


industry research, bespoke and rapid manufacturing…

November the 22nd I too part in a research (as a guinea pig) on ways of making a stiletto more comfortable using rapid manufacturing and digital media. The project is being lead by Philip Delamore from London college of Fashion. The team included podiatrist, and the engineer company Within. From earwigging I was inspired because I feel this approach with research from specialist along with rapid manufacturing is exactly where innovation and future footwear will be. Companies such as Freedom Creation based in Amsterdam started in 2000. They are a research company specializing in 3D printing.  With 3D printers being predicted as costing as low as £300 for a reduced model the dream or soon to be a reality is that we can “order” designed objects on line and print out our purchase at home.

Freedom Creation based in Amsterdam are exploring rapid manufacturing with the idea of using home printers

Amazing stuff!

This has a huge impact on distribution and markets. As the founders state…

“Product lifespan decreases, while the amount of new products pushed to the market is ever increasing. This is not a functional global vision for the future. Most of these products are tailored for the unidentified masses, which due to this fast “push to market” approach, will only decrease the design quality and increase waste on our planet. And most of these consumer products are still produced via an old fashioned (a century) mass production infrastructure, which equals to large stock, high manual labor, big investments, long distance transportation, army of employees etc.”

To me this is the juicy stuff that I could delve into for market and cultural research. I thought best to use resources at LCF, a great place to start with contacting Philip Delemore requesting an interview and running by him the idea for my cultural studies essay…


I asked in an email…Philip’s response is in red.

2. Would it be possible to interview you in prep for my cultural studies essay. I am forming it right now but am thinking it might be something like… ” Does the fashion industry inhibit innovation is woman’s footwear designs” I think you need to reframe this-innovation in design is not the issue, as continual new designs are “innovative”, it is the functional innovation which is perhaps inhibited by fashion/marketing being the drivers of development rather than comfort or performance, in contrast to the sports and leisure markets-it would be interesting to look at how much the functional is used as marketing eg. Geox/MBT/FitFlop etc

This made me realize my definition of design is deeply rooted in a product and furniture background where ideally the design is the structure, comfort and performance thus “innovation”.

So I meet with Marloes Ten Bhomer….

She is lovely and an inspirational designer.  Two points she said stuck with me.

When I asked “How do you deal, evaluate your designs and have the motivation to keep working with unfamiliar asthetics?” Her response was if something does not look right or strange if means the design is not fitting the concept.

The  second was her aim

Marloes ten Bhömer new work in the Mechanical Couture; Fashioning a New Order exhibition at the Design Museum Holon