You don’t have to try very hard to spot the architecture students on a college campus. They’re the ones with the carefully considered shoes (and artful eyewear). It’s easy to see why architects are so selective about their footwear: What are shoes, after all, but mini buildings for your feet? Design and fashion are kissing cousins, and moving closer all the time, so it makes sense that a group of well-known architects have begun designing shoes, especially since the economic slowdown may have left them with spare time. Though it’s hard to say whether these shoes are full-square design efforts, vanity projects or glorified licensing agreements.
Frank Gehry and his son, Alejandro Gehry, an artist, collaborated on a foppish two-tone boot for the high-end French shoemaker J.M. Weston. The boot is based on a 19th-century design for Prince Albert, though it looks like the kind of thing Keith Richards might have worn in swinging London.
Last year Melissa, an eco-conscious Brazilian shoe label, introduced an all-rubber high heel by Zaha Hadid with the same swooping, futuristic lines as her recent Star Trek-like furniture.
Hadid also designed limited-edition boots for Lacoste with a tail that entwines the ankle–a serpentine version of Crocs. In both cases Hadid transferred the blobby design forms made possible by rapid prototyping to shoes.
Rem Koolhaas’s nephew, Rem D. Koolhaas, left the architecture field six years ago to start a shoe company with Galahad Clark, scion of the Clarks shoe family. Their brand, United Nude, produces shoes “inspired by an architectural idea or an existing design object, like a chair.” There is at least a passing resemblance between the metal foot of the famous aluminum office chair by Charles and Ray Eames and the heel of their Eamz shoe shown above.
Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, creator of several versions of the Air Jordan, worked in architecture until age 28, when he Joined Nike as in-house architect.