Sensing creativity: the role of materials in shoe design

Braithwaite, N. ORCID: 0000-0001-6424-8919, 2017. Sensing creativity: the role of materials in shoe design. The Senses and Society, 12 (1), pp. 90-94. ISSN 1745-8927

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This essay is about designing and making shoes. Classical notions of design present it as a process whereby drawing is prefigured by a concept. This understanding overlooks the importance of materials, which through their particular technical, functional, and sensorial properties direct the nature of design (Kϋchler 2011). Materials such as leathers, suede, snakeskin and other textiles form the aesthetic characteristics of shoes. These materials are significant to creativity, not just in terms of their look, but also in how they influence the designer through their sensual qualities. The latter both inspire the future design and shape the final form of the shoe. Little is known of how designers physically engage with these materials. Drawing from ethnography of the creative practice of studio-based shoe designers and the author’s own experience of learning shoemaking this essay seeks to address this gap by illustrating the significance of materials to the creative process of shoe design. I observed the creative process of 23 women’s shoe designers with particular attention to their sourcing of different materials, and their engagement with the materials. This engagement involved wrapping the materials around the shoe last and imagining through the manipulation of the flat surface how it might transform through making into a structured form. Starting first with the look of the material the designers would engage tacitly, feeling the flat texture and then wrapping and pulling it around the last, manipulating it to resemble a three-dimensional shape. The senses worked together, fuelling the creative imagination and it was this that led to the conceptualization of design ideas. Materials were seen to be the sources of inspiration and for these designers’ creativity was revealed as a craft process that emerged through the interrelationship of the senses.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: The Senses and Society
Creators: Braithwaite, N.
Publisher: Routledge
Date: 2017
Volume: 12
Number: 1
ISSN: 1745-8927
Divisions: Schools > School of Art and Design
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 20 Mar 2017 11:26
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2019 09:01

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