Materials in footwear: an empirical study of hands-on textile approaches to sandal design

2016-09-02T08:36:09Z (GMT) by Jenny Gordon Faith Kane Mark A. Evans
Commercial sandals are often designed in a 2D format and materials are generally applied during design development rather than the earlier stages of the process. In contrast, handson woven textile design is often carried out through making and interaction with materials. This paper presents the findings of an action research case study that investigated the use of ‘hands-on’ woven textile approaches to sandal design at different stages of the design process. The role that hands-on interaction with materials plays at each stage is analysed to assess areas of potential for its integration. The case study presented in this paper focuses on an aspect of wider research that investigates the potential for innovation through handson interaction with materials in the sandal design process. The research questions for the study are: is there potential for the in-depth knowledge of materials and construction gained through a hands-on approach to be applied in the sandal design process; where and how does it have the potential to be integrated; how does the use of hands-on interaction with materials compare with more conventional approaches at different stages of the design process? The case study was undertaken in the form of a sandal design project that incorporated the use of hands-on woven textile approaches. The designs produced were informed by knowledge generated through hands-on weaving techniques. The discussion of the empirical research refers to a literature review that was conducted alongside this case study. The findings indicate that there is potential for a hands-on woven textile approach to sandal design and it may be integrated at all stages of the design process. Key challenges were noted in relation to issues of time and cost efficiency in comparison to using conventional footwear design approaches alone. Benefits in terms of opportunity for innovation, generation of in-depth knowledge and immediacy, along with control in decision-making are discussed. Hybrid approaches are also identified as being suitable for bringing together outcomes that consist of a number of different formats.