I have all sorts of problems with my feet and so any headline screaming about comfortable shoes will instantly grab my attention. Personally I find most shoes to be instruments of torture and discovering footwear, other than trainers, which don’t kill my feet is always cause for celebration. Now an artist of all people has come up with a concept which could be rather promising even if the styling is less than appealing!
Artists Silvia Fado who is based in London has developed “hydraulic heels” which feature springs, rubber balls, pneumatic hydraulics and metal rings which work together under the body weight of the wearer to create a natural balance and to cushion the feet. She had studied impact absorption, weight, traction and durability before producing the designs. The shoes are part of an art collection called Kinetic Traces but Fado hopes that her creations will inspire commercial production of footwear that we could all actually wear.
Traditional Techniques and Innovations
Each design in the collection was handmade but developed in conjunction with an unnamed industrial partner. The shoes can be designed with a specific wearer in mind and adjusted according to their weight in order to make the shoes function correctly. They are a fabulous fusion of technology, hand crafting and design. Fashioning the shoes involves both traditional processes and innovations like 3D printing. The aim was to incorporate some of the values of sports footwear into high-end fashion.
Best of Both Worlds
I think Ms Fado, a graduate of The London College of Fashion, could be on to something here. If you don’t have troublesome feet then fashionable shoes are probably fine for a while but will probably result in bad feet over time. Let’s face it most shoes are designed for their looks not to be kind to your feet but is there any real reason why they couldn’t perform both functions? I have often wondered why shoes are always either comfortable or stylish but never both.
Some Tweaking Required
I have to say that I don’t think Fado has quite hit the mark with the styling. The shoes tend towards the avant-garde and are rather industrial looking for want of a better expression but the mechanics seem sound and could surly be used in more mainstream and elegant styles as the technology is refined. It would need to be refined because the mechanisms look a little heavy duty in their current form. The initial collection is eye catching though and I guess that is the point. Hopefully it catches the eye of someone in the footwear world who can develop the principles into shoes for people like me.
Thus far no one seems keen on developing stylish designs for those with problem feet. All they would need to do is add a little cushioning and make the shoes a little wider and it would make a world of difference and I am sure that there is a ready market for such footwear.
Article by Sally Stacey