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Try to Walk in Her Shoes

By Senay Gokcen | Editor-in-Chief

Most people agree that, some designers are way apart from others, with their way of thinking, creativity and their products through out the international design arena. One of these designers is Marloes ten Bhömer.

Marloes ten Bhömer
Marloes says : This shirt has been made from stretch fabric and hasbeen sprayed over with plaster. When the fabric stretches, the fabric is being revealed underneath the plaster that has cracked. [Photo : Marloes ten Bhomer in her shirt project. ]
Few months ago, I met this young Dutch designer and asked her for this interview, glad that she accepted sincerely. I talked to her before her new exhibition which will be held during 18th - 23rd October 2005. Marloes ten Bhömer, is a 26 years old product designer who is focussing on bags, products and her shoe label HUNT.
When you visit her website her welcome message is "the shoes she designs and makes escape their archetypical form and function, but they still communicate what they are. The shoes brake down the traditional meaning of forms by introducing materials and ways of construction that are unfamiliar to shoe-design. By designing objects that do not instantly reveal their function or meaning, design is liberated and made less generic."

She has spent her undergraduate years at the Higher School of Arts Arnhem, 3D Design Course (BA - 1998 - 2001) alongside experimental shoe designer Fredie Stevens, as well as Viktor & Rolf. In 1999 she was awarded "Honourable mention" for a schoolbag which she designed for the HEMA-design competition.
She studied at the Royal College of Art in London, Design Products Course during 2001 - 2003 and received a MA degree under the tutelage of renowned architect Ron Arad. In 2002, she went to London College of Fashion, for Footwear and Computer Summer school. An internship at Tod's in Milan was Arad's recommendation for her, before collaborating on shoe projects for Alexander McQueen and Boudicca. Working in a shoe engineering project with Ulla Winkler for Alexander McQueen in Paris was her another successful work experience.

During the years 2000 - 2004, Marloes ten Bhomer has attended 16 exhibitions and now she's preparing for the 17th exhibition at the Chelsea Crafts Fair 2005- Europe's Finest Crafts Fair, through the dates 18th - 23rd October 2005.

"I don't believe in honest design," she says and adds that watching an old documentary about factory workers who glued together small bits of meat to create the illusion of a large rump steak inspired her vision to design things that look like something else. Her works reveals folded, moulded, vacuum-formed and hand-sculpted footwear. They're very well constructed, although they seem un-wearable, her shoes are extremely ergonomic. Let's learn more about her with this interview.

Blue folded shoe
Marloes says : These shoes are made from one piece of leather, that has been cut and folded into a shoe.
Marloes says : This shoe is constructed from several pieces of leather that were all were formed over several shoe lasts, before made into one shoe. The most important reference in this shoe to shoes is the shapes used to build this shoe. 
The Loop Shoe
Marloes says : The holes in the loop, hug the foot.
Senay Gokcen [SG]: Dear Marloes, what inspires you most when designing your shoes ? 

Marloes ten Bhomer [MB]: I think the biggest influence in my work is that people are interested in the non understandable and dark side of things. This is obviously something that has always existed, but I think it is becoming more and more common. I think this is partly due to the fact that we are surrounded by amazing amounts of electronic equipment and appliances.

Electronic equipment is becoming less and less understandable still there is great trust in technology. People seem overwhelmed by these objects that are supposed to make ones life easier that they are looking for challenges. They also want to be surrounded by non pleasing objects, objects that challenge use with their appearance, way of thinking and feel. I would like to appeal to contemporary fantasies and ideas of beauty.

SG: I feel that, architectural details are used in your shoes. Your shoes are like well constructed buildings. Do they have anything in common with architecture ?

MB: In order to make shoes more abstract and less generic, I introduce a lot of forms that are less common within shoe design. These forms are defined by strong, clean, straight lines and corners. People associate these with architecture a lot. As architectural contain all sorts of forms and philosophies like the architecture of the blob or blob-itecture, I would be hesitative to call them architectural myself, however some architecture does interests and inspires me a lot. Last October I have shortly been to Tokyo, which is full of very interesting buildings for example. 

What most inspires me about the architecture is, next to the grandeur, the use of massive air extractor or air conditioner pipes on the exterior of buildings. Almost as if the walls are broken open and you can see what goes on within them. It seems everything is built around spaces; nothing seems to be hidden inside the walls. Rather than just putting blocks down, it seems as if the volumes that were needed for a specific task are built.

Like some architects see the space as a starting point, my shoes are objects that are built around feet. They refer to shoes, but I am trying to get away from using conventional shoe typologies.

Carbon shoe
Marloes says : This shoe is fabricated in a two-piece mould and has been made by carbon fibre, a super strong and light material used in the car industry.
Carbon shoe
Marloes says : Carbon A very different way of construction has been used for this design. The heel is incorporated in the flat side of the shoe and the rest of the parts are there to keep to shoe onto the foot. Four pattern pieces of carbon fibre construct this shoe. It has hardly anything to do with existing shoe- constructions and -designs and it will make you walk differently.
SG: How do you create your designs; by hand drawings, computer aided or both ways ?

MB: There are two ways in which I start a shoe design. I either use materials that I play with in order to come to a shoe or I design something with a pencil and paper after which I need to find a way and a material in order to make this design into reality. One project specifically employed 3D computer drawing techniques to come to a design. The heel was been taken away. Instead of the heel there is a bridge like construction, which leaves the back hollow. I wanted to give the impression of a monolithic form, out of which a foot has been carved. This is also the way this shoe has been build.

Starting with a hardly shaped block in the computer, carving out all the parts where the foot wants to be. The shoe was rapid prototyped in a rubber like material. The way I build this shoe is important, for it is possible to build a flexible shoe without any stitches or traces of handwork in this shoe and no reference to conventional shoemaking.

SG: Do you design according to the materials you have or search for the right materials for your designs ?

MB: In some shoes the elements and shapes come from the materials and techniques I am using. For example; in one of the shoe designs I have used a paper like fabric that was folded around a foot emulating a shoe form. The folds make direct the straight form of the shoe. Sometimes I have to search for the right materials to create a technically sound shoe. I have just started a project for example, in which I start off thinking about bridge and lifting constructions, rather than shoes. The heel in this project is like as an object that needs to be held and lifted off the ground.

SG: I know that you're busy with your next exhibition works. Have you used any new style or material for your newest shoes or other objects?

MB: I will be exhibiting and selling shoes at the Chelsea Crafts Fair in London this year. This fair is meant for designer makers that specialise in fashion accessories, furniture pieces, glass and jewellery.

For the exhibition at Chelsea Crafts Fair, I am designing shoes that are made with the leather mache technique I invented. This technique allows me to create a shoe with several sheets of leather and vary the thickness of the shoe at different parts. The technique also allows me to design whilest making the shoe. I will also present gloves designs.

SG: Why do you introduce new shoe making techniques?

MB: Writing about shoes usually deal with the transformation impact shoes have on the person wearing them. I would agree with that specific shoes make you feel differently, which I find very intriguing and I am therefore even more interested in creating new shoe typologies for people that live nowadays with their new fantasies and new definitions of beauty. In order to create these, I think that the way to move forward in shoe design is introducing new shoemaking techniques and materials. 

Very special thanks to Marloes ten Bhömer for that she spared so much time for this interview and replied my questions. Make sure to see her newest designs at the Chelsea Crafts Fair if you're in London in October. 

Copyright © September 2005 - 2010 by Senay Gokcen, Fashion Trendsetter. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission.

All images Copyright © 2001 - 2010 Marloes ten Bhömer, used by permission.

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