Color changing shoes that tell your story
The project for which Soule has been developed was about personalization of textiles. Within this project my goal was to stimulate people to go out and explore the world in a more humane way. What I mean by this, is that I wanted people to look around them instead of, for example perceiving the world through the camera of their smartphone. Humanizing technology through textiles has been my main design driver.
Soule is a shoe for travellers that tells the story of where you are and where you have been. The colors of the shoe are influenced by rain, snow and surface waters. By changing colors the shoes capture memories. With Soule I want to persuade people to go out and explore the world.
"How can I stimulate people to go out and explore the world through personalizing textiles?"
"An exploratory process, applying chemistry as a design tool"
In depth interviewing and focus group
In the first concept phase I came up with the idea of capturing memories in fabric and in this way personalizing the textile. During this phase a main input has been user research. Through interviewing and a creative assignment I was able to discover and explore the special meaning of shoes in building experiences and memories.
Creating a memory shoe using smart textiles
As the project evolved the idea of a memory shoe came more to life. The process started to evolve around the question “how to capture and display these memories?”.
In order to capture memories of different places I needed to create something that responds to the environment. To me one thing was clear, I did not want any electronics or GPS involved. I wanted to create a natural interaction with the nature rather than implementing cables, batteries or LEDs.
After thorough research and experimenting I came up with the idea of programming the material. I wanted the material to change color as a natural reaction to the different environments by using chemistry. I wanted to implement color changing pigments that would react to location specific input.
Off to the chemistry department
Programming the material: how to create color changing pigments that react to location specific input?
In order to create the matrial that I wanted I went to the chemistry department of the TU/e and talked to different professors and experts. I was able to get access to a lab and experiment with indicators. In the pictures below this process is displayed.
Cocreation with coating company Stahl: experimenting with my materials on leather
Shoes that respond to rain, snow and surface waters
In total I went through five phases of experimenting, trying to design my chemicals into location specific color changing pigments. In each of the phases I discovered new challenges and shortcomings.
Throughout the process I continuously reflected on my results and I needed to make some concessions. One of the compromises was that the color change would not (yet) be permanent, but continuously changing depending on location.
The colors would respond to water, meaning that several color combinations in one country would be possible. Rain water, sea water and surface waters would have a different effect and the same color combinations can appear at more than one single place in the world.
I went into designing my final prototype, I fine-tuned my pigments and paint, I designed a pattern and applied the paint onto fabric and created Soule.