Thursday, July 15, 2010

Designing a Shoe: Part 1

Although we regularly buy shoes and discuss their design merits, most people do not know how the shoes they wear were created. “On average, every man, woman, and child in the United States purchases more than four pairs of shoes each year, a level of consumption that establishes the U.S. as the world's largest importer of footwear,” (Infomat, 2008). Because Americans and people worldwide buy so many shoes, they should understand how they are made.

This is a now a new series of posts (with pictures for the first time!)  to illustrate and explain the process.

As an overview, shoes are created through a multi-step design process, which begins with concept and a rough sketch. Computers are then used to make the shoe three-dimensional. From the 3-D design computer aided drawing (CAD), a model is made. Next the model is tested to ensure proper design and performance. After testing of the model, the shoe becomes a finished product, which is sold to customers. Finally, the process begins again, often based on the previous design.

Step 1)
The first thing a shoe designer must do is come up with a concept. This concept can come from anywhere. In the above drawing, the idea for a sneaker came from a car. Sometimes ideas spontaneously come to designers. Other the times they look for inspiration, such as at an art museum. Most often, the inspiration comes from another shoe. The concept does not have to be drawn out, like the image shows. However, this image illustrates the concept process for one designer.

Step 2)
The next step is to make a rough sketch. Especially if a concept drawing is not made, this illustrates what the designer is thinking. It is much easier to show a concept visually than with words.
The rough sketch is not to scale and usually in black and white.

I hope this post gets you thinking about where the shoes you wear come from and how they are designed. The next steps will be posted shortly. 

Related Posts:

Designing a Shoe: Part 2


Design Museum. (n.d.). Manolo Blahnik. Retrieved April 13, 2010 from

Good, J. (n.d.). The design process. Retrieved April 13, 2010 from

Hellenbeck design LLC. (n.d.). Steps in the process. Retrieved April 12, 2010 from

Infomat. (2008). Footwear industry in USA. Retrieved July 15, 2010 from

Kunchinsky, R. (2006).Footwear concept design process. Retrieved April 13, 2010 from

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