Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Paper Feet

Marloes Ten Bhömer is forging an origami-led path for her footwear. Her innovative designs blur the lines between fashion, art and architectural design and her latest prototype, the Beigefoldedshoe is the first of her designs to be commercially available. It uses just two materials – a single piece of vegetable-tanned leather folded round a stainless steel heel. The result is a highly wearable piece of modern design, which is as aesthetically pleasing as it is provocative. Ten Bhömer launched the shoe at Spring Projects Gallery earlier this month and we spoke to her about working creating shoes with a unique design perspective.

Dazed Digital: How long have you been designing for? Marloes Ten Bhömer: I set up my design practice in 2003, after finishing my BA at Artez, Arnhem 1998 – 2001 and my MA at the Royal College of Art London 2001 - 2003

DD: Did you start out designing shoes or working with other media? Marloes Ten Bhömer: While studying 3D (product) design at the Higher School of Arts Arnhem, the Netherlands, where I designed products ranging from chairs, tables to a kitchen, I was introduced to footwear design by one of my tutors, Marijke Bruggink, founder of the very successful shoe label Lola Pagola. At the MA Design Products course at the Royal College of Art until now my sole focus has been footwear design.
I choose shoes as my main focus, because I find shoes a very interesting complex subject. Various aspects of the design field like the use of materials and construction need to be addressed and also more intuitive aspects. Next to my own agenda I have regarding design, which deals with designing objects that ignore or criticise conventions in order to make the product-world less generic, shoes need to be structurally sound.
DD: For you, what is the link between fashion, art and architecture/ product design? Marloes Ten Bhömer: Objects of design, fashion, art and architecture are all man made objects. They all reflect ideas on objects, people and their relation. Objects contain a myriad of thoughts put together in a materialized/visualized form.

DD: What is the process behind the creation of Beigefoldedshoe? How long does each pair take to make? Marloes Ten Bhömer: The shoe stems from one of my previous footwear concepts, has been transformed into a wearable shoe through two years of design and engineering development. It uses (for the footwear industry) a new construction technique and various specifically designed and custom build components. The Beigefoldedshoe is made from a single piece of folded leather and stainless steel heel construction.
It takes about a week and a half to complete a pair of shoes.

DD: What was the inspiration behind this particular shoe? Marloes Ten Bhömer: My work consistently aims to challenge generic typologies of women’s shoes through experiments with non-traditional technologies and material techniques. By reinventing the process by which footwear is made, the resulting shoes serve as unique examples of new aesthetic and structural possibilities, while also serving to criticise the conventional status of women’s shoes as cultural objects.
Material experiments lead to a prototype that is translated into a suitable material and construction. The shapes within my designs are directly derived from the materials and techniques used. In this particular shoe for example, leather was folded around a foot emulating a shoe form. The folds defined the form of the shoe.

DD: Which designers/ architects do you admire? Marloes Ten Bhömer: I admire United Nude for their experimental footwear vision that is influencing people’s perception of shoes all around the world. It takes a lot of courage and commitment to seduce manufacturers to challenge and change their usual way of producing footwear.
DD: What other projects are you currently working on? Marloes Ten Bhömer: At the beginning of 2009, I introduced Rotationalmouldedshoe, a completely machine made shoe. I am working on the latest technical developments of this shoe in order to make the shoe wearable.

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