Italian Shoe Design

  • This course, taught between the apparel and industrial design departments, comprised a month-long travel and exploration of Italy, wherein students experienced first hand the rich cultural heritage of shoe design and shoemaking. Visiting various brands, factories, tradeshows, we were able to understand the entire process behind the ideation of a design, the process of creation, and the marketing afterward. 
    We stayed in Turin, Milan, and Florence (and Tuscany). The tours, often given by the eponymous designers, included: Pininfarina, Bertone, Kristina Ti, Superga, Giancarlo Lotti, Taccetti, Superga, Scuola del Cuoio, Volpi Leather Tannery, Polimoda with Aki Choklat, Fortificio Romangolo, Gucci Museum, Ferragamo Museum, Da Vinci Museum, Pitti Immagine Filatti, Teatro alla Scala, various factories producing accessories for luxury brands like Jimmy Choo, Chanel, Manolo Blahnik, etc., and others. Upon returning to RISD, students had approximately 1 week to conceptualize and create a shoe prototype. As practice, we created felt shoes for toddlers. 
    My final design was inspired by the subtle wooden details and shifts in texture that I found in many of our visits, especially that of the wooden Pininfarina car-frame. I used walnut, pine, and lined the inside of the shoe with sanded-down leather. The asymmetrical piece is more a sculptural exploration of positive and negative spaces, and plays with the idea of geometry becoming organic when translated from 2D to 3D; the patterns, laid flat, are all triangles and geometric shapes. I also created a 57-page process book, which showcased important inspirational elements of our class and the actual process behind designing and creating a wooden shoe. 
  • Final exhibition display. 
  • Sample of one of the process book pages. 
  • The felt children's shoe I made for practice.