Shoes and Architecture...

... are a match made in heaven! In architecture heaven, with fashion-based premises. This is how it goes: if you can create great looking and functional buildings, you surely know how to make other smaller objects which include a structure. The structure though is nothing if it can't be used, if it isn't user friendly and comfortable. These smaller objects I am thinking about right now include all types of furniture, shoes and clothes.

Take your time: zoom in

Let's agree upon something: a tall shoe doesn't make it architectural. Nor do puffy sleeves on a coat. If something exceeds the expectation of the viewer only by reaching extreme limits that is not architecture. It is like taking piece of wood, making a long stick out of it and name it structure: it will not stand by itself. The idea is that we have to really open our eyes and allow ourselves to visually explore the piece. If it's a shoe, we are talking about the science of knowing where to cut the heel so it fits gravitational needs but also employ an outstanding aesthetic. Shocking hues and color block are a common trait of every real architectural shoe. 

Above: shoes that revive a baroque feeling through the gold detailing on a contrasting hue and the soft curves in the heel area.

ph. credits: fabric mag, finsk shoes, tfs

Julia Lundsten is the mind behind Finsk, a label launched in 2004. Julia has an architect father and interior designer mother. Manolo Blahnik has described her work as "exquisite, divine and perfect." How could it not have been? Here are some quotes from her London College of Fashion alumni profile:
You would describe your work as: Contemporary and architectural.
If you could own any designers work other than your own it would be: an original piece of furniture by Le Corbusier.
The artist or designer you most admire is: Alvar Aalto. He experimented with materials and used them in a way never seen in design before. He also had a very strong personality and never compromised his ideas.

Form works in many ways... pick one and make a piece of art

Architects enjoy the world of shoes: Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and surely Rem D. Koolhaas are some well known examples. Rem D. Koolhaas is the nephew of the Rem Koolhaas, of course! And does this show... he founded the popular United Nude together with Galahad Clark: "This story begins with a broken heart. Rem's attempt to get the girl back was made by downsizing architecture to its smallest and most vulnerable scale, that of a woman's foot." (from About United Nude)

The concept of an innovative yet functional shoe has become mainstream. Some of the shoes have a shape which is easy to recognize, as the Möbius, Eamz and Fold.

ph. from UN

Above: so pink the mind boggles; a creative personal selection from other United Nude staples.

Last but not least: let it all out!

This post wouldn't be complete without a brief spotlight onto the wonderful pieces of art shown for Balenciaga Fall 2010. Besides the structures and shapes, there is also a wonderful material mix. Too much, never enough. Yet, to keep it real and offer the viewer a solid anchor into the present, the shoes reinterpret the traditional loafers and brogues:

ph. from

Do we have a deal?

Shoes are very architectural and always have been, and even more recently there are new shoes like Miuccia [Prada’s]—they’re buildings.” (Frank Gehry)

From shoes to master plans, it’s the same design process and language we’re trying to develop.” (Project architect Maria Araya, Zaha Hadid Architects )

Further reading on SFT: Why do architects wear black? (Jan 10, 2009)

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