Parametric Design And Computational Tools in Footwear Industry

footwear design
Photograph: © Adidas

Numerous designers’ aim to accomplish a smooth transition from concept to a real item is now becoming a reality in the creation of small-scale products with computational methods. Recent rapid additive manufacturing techniques enable the production of objects with high structured complexity without any need for designers to build intricate details, instead of transmitting their ideas in the form of 3D computer-generated models. The link between architecture and footwear design hasn’t always been so clear- footwear has long been assumed to follow the lead of architectural styles, and they were formerly considerably more daring in submitting their wearers to a variety of gait patterns.

Typical footwear – or, for that matter, any shoe — smoothens our experience of our surroundings, irrespective of how flashy it appears. While not everyone has to start walking on platforms or in pointy footwear, architects’ ideas to design shoes reveal what they actually are: a dynamic site of spatial interaction and a space suitable for spatial research. Parametric Design in the fashion and footwear industry addresses the specific needs of an individual and enables a customized design that fits the user well. Footwear design with computational methods has revolutionized the conventional methods and the innovative products have much more comfort to offer.

Learn more about parametric and computational design from pioneers at the CD NEXT conference series:

The advent of Parametric Design in Footwear

footwear design
Photograph: © Carbon

Making and designing shoes is a difficult process. It necessitates a wide range of skills in a variety of areas that might influence the shoe’s quality, appearance, and functionality. The shoemaking technique was a traditional handcraft until the nineteenth century. The craftsman would take measurements of the foot and cut top leathers to the desired size. Later, the process was nearly entirely automated, and production took place in enormous factories. Despite the benefits of mass production carried out by industrialization, the advantages of contemporary manufacturing may permit us to restore the artisan creation of the past in the future.

With the advancement of CAD technology and the growing desire for bespoke footwear, shoe-lasts are being asked to be developed quickly in order to expedite the production process. The demand for creating complicated forms resulted in the development of computational fabrication techniques, while parametric design allowed for greater innovative solutions. Fashion and product design were not spared from the effects. The evolution of product commercialization has shifted from universal mass manufacturing to mass customization and personalization. The footwear design, in particular, has been dominated by a new wave of science and innovation in the last 10 years, with the evident promise of parametric design and digital manufacturing.

Acknowledging the possibilities of parametric design and computational methods, great architects and designers have set out to revolutionize the way people think about footwear. On one hand, the innovative design style’s expanded options help the designer to come up with innovative shapes, geometries, and fabrics to alter the classic design of footwear as we know them today. Parametric design, on the other hand, is ushering in a new era of product customization by integrating human information directly into the styling, engineering, and production processes.

3D Printing and Footwear Design

footwear design
Photograph: © Y-3

Recent advances in 3D technology and digital graphics have revolutionized product design, enabling designers to create non-normalized repeating components directly from digital information. Footwear designs firms have been searching for more personalization by participating in 3D printing, taking advantage of new trends and innovations. As an additive manufacturing method, 3D printing has allowed the transformation of virtual 3D models into actual products.

Computational methods and 3D printing has progressed to the point that the end result is no more a 2D drawing, but rather a real model that is extremely near to the finished version. This method opens up new avenues for formal concept development and testing in a short period of time.

Shoe Designers Opting Computational Methods

Designers may produce clothing using 3D printing. But its usage in fashion technology doesn’t stop there: it can also be used to make shoes with incredible designs.

footwear design
Photograph: © Mibuchi Hisashi

For example, Zoe Jia-Yu Dai, a Taiwanese footwear designer, developed “Breaking the 3D Mould,” a line of shoes featuring 3D printed pieces. Designers may now go much further with their design frameworks thanks to this innovation. It’s a method of altering the production process. Additive manufacturing makes it easier to produce organic structures than conventional techniques.

footwear design
Photograph: © Silvia Fado

Another example of a footwear designer involved in 3D printed designs is Silvia Fado, a Spanish designer. Rapid prototyping is done by Silvia Fado, a Spanish footwear designer, using 3D printing and laser cutting. 

Silvia Fado, who is inspired by architecture and engineering, focuses on aesthetics, and functionality based on the movement of the body, the wearability of the shoes, and the comfort features that are included in the footwear. She focuses on both the aesthetic and utilitarian aspects of footwear. It’s also feasible to make shoes with incredible designs with the aid of computational methods.

Footwear Brands following 3D Printing Techniques

footwear design
Photograph: © Reebok

3D printers that can print in color and numerous materials have enhanced the footwear design industry and will keep evolving with the innovations and advancements in computational methods.  3D printing will transform the industrial world as we know it, with implications for energy consumption, waste reduction, personalization, product availability, art, architecture, and research.

The breakthroughs begin when a concept design is conceived and only end when the product is developed. Adidas is racing to be the first shoe brand to use 3D printing for mass production. Other firms, like Nike, New Balance, and Under Armour, are also experimenting with 3D printing. The term “innovation” encompasses a wide range of concepts that include not just the goods but also the manufacturing process.

However, the material and production method are the two most significant factors that influence every product. These variables have the greatest impact on the environment. As a result, brands like Adidas undertake initiatives to cut carbon emissions from all of their footwear design regularly in order to maintain their carbon footprint to a minimum.

Examples of Parametric + Footwear by Architects 

3D printing, like other industries, may be used to build new production methods. It might provide a corporation with more options and chances. Here are 4 examples of footwear design collaborating with a parametric design approach to produce high-end and functional footwear designs.

1. Arturo Tedeschi and Alessio Spinelli

footwear design
Photograph: © Alessio Spinelli

The designers’ goal was to propose a “creative model” in which art and technology might live on a rational level, without extravagance or superficial manipulation, by using fast prototyping methods in the manufacture of two shoe models.

footwear design
Photograph: © Alessio Spinelli

The design process benefited from the input of Alessio Spinelli, a creative shoe designer, as well as the technical expertise of Maurizio Arturo Degni and Arturo Tedeschi, a duo of architects. The goal was to incorporate technology into Spinelli’s creative process without significantly altering the fundamental expression. 

footwear design
Photograph: © Alessio Spinelli

The shoes were created as a result of formal recommendations and a wish to show the magnificence of parametric design through wearable items

2. Zaha Hadid

Photograph: © Zaha Hadid Architects

Zaha Hadid‘s unique style of flowing, sweeping lines, which defined her gravity-defying structures, revolutionized the whole design language. Although the ‘Queen of the Curve’ was hailed for her architectural ingenuity, she also had a keen eye for the human figure and fashion.

Photograph: © Zaha Hadid Architects

It’s no wonder, therefore, that the starchitect has carved out a position for herself in the fashion industry. Zaha Hadid and Rem D Koolhaas, the founder of ultramodern shoe company United Nude, collaborated to design a futuristic steel-finished sneaker. The zig-zag patterns on the Nova sneaker are greatly influenced by Hadid’s avant-garde architecture.

3. Adidas Futurecraft 4D

Photograph: © Adidas

Adidas claims to have created the optimal sole design after analyzing a database of running data. While Adidas is now producing a single shoe design, it clears the way for the corporation to custom-made bespoke shoes for a particular individual in the future.

Photograph: © Adidas

Your feet are one-of-a-kind, and so should your shoes. With Futurecraft 4D, a personalized 3D-printed running shoe midsole fitted to each person’s foot, Materialise’s 3D Printing tools and services are assisting Adidas in revealing the potential of performance shoes.

footwear design
Photograph: © Adidas

Materialize worked with Adidas to create a lighter framework in the design for the Adidas Futurecraft 4D, keeping the shoe at a comfortable weight. Materialize design and engineering team collaborated with Materialise 3-Matic to develop the design, which improved the flexibility while maintaining rigidity and strength. Click here to check for the price of Adidas Futurecraft 4D.

4. Ica & Kostika Coral Shoe

Photograph: © Ica Kostika

Ica & Kostika is a novel design practice that focuses on the intersection of fashion and technology. The studio focuses on computational advancement while highlighting bespoke made-to-order manufacturing of footwear designs.

Photograph: © Ica Kostika

The Coral shoe design acts as a functional and wearable shoe sculpture, the design of which is based on a sea fan’s branching.

Photograph: © Ica Kostika

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Parametric Design Guiding the Future of Fashion, and Footwear Design

Photograph: © Adidas

Parametric design and 3D printing have a greater impact on the footwear design than you would expect. All of these examples demonstrate that shoes may be made in a variety of ways. It might be pushing design limits, changing manufacturing processes to be more environmentally friendly, or simply having shoes or insoles built to measure for enhanced comfort. 

One of the benefits of parametric design and computational methods is the direct link of the designer with the customer’s anatomical and aesthetic needs, which opens up new options for product customization. Many footwear firms are looking at the bigger picture by exploring and attempting to meet consumer expectations through the use of modern technologies and adapting to new design processes. There are several reasons to manufacture 3D printed shoes, and they may be pushed even further in the coming years.

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