Key Insights:

 
The following key insights were drawn from online research, consumer interviews and interviews with collegiate athletes and runners. 

Consumer Profile:

In order to deliver a more targeted and well-designed product, I further defined my user group as follows and highlighted a key user. 
 

Ideation + Exploration:

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Product Inspiration:

I chose the following images to guide my design process based on their complexity and intricacies. I found the forms and detailed linework inspirational as well as the intersection between the man-made futuristic elements and the natural more organic elements. 

Material Research + Case Study:

 

Preliminary Prototypes + Proof of Concept

In order to test the research I had conducted I asked four different runners to run in pairs of shoes I had cut up and assembled to highlight key points of support. The runner's feedback highlighted the dislike of the toe cap while running, and the freedom they felt while running in well ventilated shoes. 

Refining the Design:

 
After conducting my research and verifying my claims, I began to expand upon original sketches and ultimately refine my final design and linework before beginning the final prototype. 

Prototyping:

 
To deliver the most authentic prototype I decided to make the shoe out of materials that were as close as possible to those used in final production footwear.  I created multiple molds for each part, and cast each piece in a variety of different colors and materials to test for durability and physical properties. 

Midsole Prototyping:

To make the midsole, I made three different types of molds in order to minimize part lines, and produce the most even distribution of the expanding foam. The foam I was pouring cured in 50 seconds and was difficult to pour, resulting in many failed attempts before the final model. 

Outsole Prototyping:

In making the outsole, I first modeled the form in SolidWorks and then 3D printed each half. Each mold was hand made, and in order to find the most appropriate material, I tested a variety of different rubbers and plastics.

Upper Prototyping:

While prototyping the upper I faced a variety of different challenges. The first prototype I made was too stiff and large, and the shape did not match the surface details of the midsole. Since the elements were too large and did not fit the design language, I remade all of the molds and started over. At this point, I began to create my own inmolding bu using a syringe to pipe in the first layer, wait for the cure and then pour the second color, removing the need for glue which is environmentally hazardous.   

Final Prototype:

 
After making 10+ molds, and almost 40 different prototypes for this project I was able to display one fully functional pair of shoes. One could walk, run, and try on each shoe as well as feel the comfort of the pillow-like midsole and the freedom of sandals.
This project was awarded Design Excellence in the Fall of 2020 by a panel of judges. 

Process Book

In order to define my process and difficulties with mold-making and casting, I created a process book that describes the project in greater detail. The process book includes further description on material research, running research, CMF, as well as the ideation process for this project. 

© 2020 by Anna Bodney