Pushing the boundaries of rapidly developing technologies and showing the sculptural and experimental qualities that 3D printing offers, united nude joins forces with 3D systems for a major collaborative exhibition presented during milan design week 2015. The architectural shoe exhibition ‘re-inventing shoes’ highlights five exclusive 3D-printed shoes, conceived by a select group of the worlds leading architects and designers: Ben Van Berkel, Fernando Romero, Michael Young, Ross Lovegrove and Zaha Hadid.
The select group of high heels embody an overall investigation and exploration into the union of wearable design, functionality, production methods, aesthetics and technology and using the highest quality of 3D printing — selective laser sintering — in a hard nylon and all-new soft rubber material in their realization. Each shoe presented for ‘re-inventing shoes’ is available as a up to 50 pair limited edition. ‘Re-inventing shoes’ is on show at teatro arsenale, via c. Correnti 11 within the 5vie art + design quarter during Milan Design Week 2015.
Architect and world economic forum ‘Global leader of tomorrow’ Fernando Romero has conceived ‘ammonite’ for United Nude, a shoe that uses the most cutting-edge 3D printing technology, yet results in an organically shaped object that could have been found in nature, like a fossil buried on the bottom of the ocean.
Intertwined in the design are the old and the new, natural and man-made and the connection between the human body, the earth, and the universe — working together to become simultaneously timeless and forward-looking. Intricately formed geometries have been printed in red, with mathematically-informed compositions creating a delicate, cosmic spiral that meets at the intersection of architecture, art, and design.
Drawing reference from the image of a flickering light of fire, zaha hadid’s ‘flames’ shoe marks the internationally-renowned architect’s most recent collaboration with United Nude.
The design features flame-like bands that start from the heel and extend upwards to embrace the foot, with an ergonomically-optimized foot bed providing comfort and support for the wearer. hadid’s architectural language and united nude’s expertise in manufacturing join forces in the creation of a shoe that embodies both a sculptural sensibility and experimentation of technology — highlighting the essence of fire: delicate and ephemeral, yet compelling and dynamic.
In an interview with design journal ‘Designboom’ — Hadid tells about the challenges in transferring an architectural language into the form of a pair of shoes: ‘As a designer, you first have to understand how shoes land with each step, how the wearer can balance and also the ergonomics and dynamics of how to ensure comfort and support – it’s all about working with the foot. But of course our intention was also to create a shoe that explores new possibilities in terms of design and manufacturing techniques. All these aspects have been carefully considered as a whole, and i don’t think one is more important than the others’.
‘The freedom afforded by the unbridled free form sculpting of advanced 3D printing is totally invigorating and emotionally stimulating‘ describes designer Ross Lovegrove on his experience with using the technology in the design of his ‘Ilabo’ shoe for United Nude. ‘We have entered a second renaissance that is like a spaceship moving away from an analogue earth into a nebula of extraordinary abstract beauty that will lift our psyche to new limits of speculation and biomimetic understanding…..Closer in fact to our true instinctive view of a non linear world. So, mindful of this moment of divergence, I have sought to ground my concept on core female anatomical beauty first scanning the foot to retain the sophisticated surfaces that hard and soft physiognomy can naturally provide.’
The ‘Ilabo’ is defined by a complex tridimensional polygon mesh in a light, mint-green hue — a composition which forms a ‘watertight geometry’ whereby nothing is extraneous in either material volume or functional characteristics. The shoe reveals the perception of verticality, with the material extending the wearer’s foot above the ground and reaching upwards towards the ankle.
With the design for ‘UNX2′, we wanted to dress the foot in such a way as to make its form partially visible, to highlight the mechanics of the foot and the visual effects that can be created by the shoe in motion’ descrivbes Ben Van Berkel, founder and principal architect of UNStudio, on the design of his shoe for United Nude. ‘We were particularly interested in the kinds of images the shoe could create, both when static and when in motion. When the wearer is still, the curve of the foot can be glimpsed within the shoe and the dynamics of movement are suggested by the curving vertical ribbons that envelop it.’
Upon movement of the wearer, ‘UNX2′ creates shifting levels of transparency through an undulating rhythm of vertical lines that run from the ground the ankle. Delicately shaped ribbons and the hoof-like shape of the shoe elongate the legs and create an almost animal-like extension.
Working on this project has allowed the office a unique opportunity to explore and expand within a rare dimension. As a design office we are often working within strict parameters for client briefings so designing without boundaries on a shoe that is created to push the productions skills of united nude and 3D systems is rare.‘ Explains designer Michael Young on the creation of his ‘young shoe’ for United Nude.
‘Combined with our own extensive experience in 3d technology we have created what we consider a refreshing approach to the way a shoe may be can be perceived.’ Young continues. ‘The process and material allowed us to create this unique lattice work that builds upwards around a heeled shoe to create a boot with the tactility of lace work that is in fact both durable and flexible at the same time.’