In recent years, artistic researcher Catherine Willems has been studying traditional shoe-making techniques in India, Finland and Namibia. Through advanced 3D technology and biomechanical study of the human foot, she creates 'Future Footwear'. The search is summarized in the research publication "Do You Want Your Feet Back?", published by APE (Art Paper Editions). The book was presented in London, then at various locations in Belgium.
What makes Catherine Willems’ work on “future footwear” so appealing is its promise to leapfrog more than 150 years of industrialization, with all its attendant afflictions—environmental destruction, depletion of natural resources, extreme global inequality—and bring us straight into a cleaner and fairer future, while taking cues from ancient knowledge and craft. The research brings three disparate fields together: traditional footwear in very different indigenous cultures (Kolhapuri in India, Sami in Finland, and Ju|’hoansi in Namibia), the biomechanics of the human foot, and advanced technology for 3D measuring and printing. The depth and seriousness of the exploration in each field results in a richness of data and information which has only just started to yield its first outcomes.
— Christine De Baan
In this new book presenting cobblers from India, Finland, Belgium, the UK, and Namibia, Els Roelandt and Catherine Willems present a refreshing and much-needed vision on anthropology, craftmanship, and design, clearly depicting the integrated roles of artisans, scientists, and industry partners.
— Rik Pinxten