As landfills choke with the remains of millions of shoes made of non-biodegradable material and (in)tangible cultural heritage is swept away or commoditized by market forces, Future Footwear stands for creating footwear that is sustainable for environment and body.
Future Footwear is a design protocol by Catherine Willems that combines anthropology, design, and biomechanics, and which involves
- living and working with indigenous cobblers and studying their craft and skill around shoes and feet (PEOPLE);
- working together to create shoes inspired by indigenous designs but adapted to urban lifestyles while exploring new approaches and technologies in order to achieve sustainable production (PLANET);
- studying bio-mechanics and foot health (FEET).
Future Footwear was developed by Catherine Willems as part of her doctoral research at the School of Arts (KASK) of University College Ghent, Belgium (www.KASK.be). The biomechanical component of ‘Future Footwear’ (FEET) is done in collaboration with Kristiaan D’Août (Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, University of Liverpool). Design related aspects involve close collaboration with Vivobarefoot (www.vivobarefoot.com) and the artisan communities that are bringing indigenous collections to the market (PEOPLE). Photographs are courtesy of David Willems (www.davidwillemsphoto.com) and Kristiaan D’Août.
Catherine Willems is lecturer at the Fashion Department of the School of Arts (KASK) and consultant for VivoBarefoot, London, UK. She studied Comparative Cultural Sciences at Ghent University, Footwear Design at Ars Sutoria in Milan (Italy) and has a PhD in the Arts (Future Footwear, 2015, University College Ghent). With Future Footwear she focuses on the creation and wearing of footwear in a particular context. Integrating across biomechanics, anthropology, and design sciences, Future Footwear explores the relation between materials, skill, and design methods in various communities and questions the conventional thinking on design, production, and creativity.