The challenge of the project was to take an innovative approach to designing a more efficient running shoe concept, taking into consideration end-of-life disassembly, without compromising function or quality. In order to realize this challenge, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the athletic footwear industry, market trends, and consumer behavior was necessary. Through the realization of this challenge it is hoped to spark positive social change by making consumers aware that efficient and sustainable products perform as well, if not better, than current market solutions.
‘Transition’ is an innovative and efficiently designed sustainable running shoe that targets the niche market between traditional running shoes and bare feet. ‘Transition’ has been designed to prove that the unsustainable complexity of traditional running shoes is unnecessary, and to provide those wanting all the benefits of barefoot running, a smooth and injury free transition from the restrictive traditional running shoe, to the freedom, sensory feedback and physical benefits the barefoot running style provides.
What makes it an excellent design solution:
Not only does ‘Transition’ address the current unsustainable practices within the athletic footwear industry, and take full advantage of the industries fastest growing trend, the barefoot running phenomenon, but is also packaged in an advanced and innovative way, whilst making use of today’s technologies.
Currently, North America alone produces approximately 208 700 000 metric tons of waste every year, and with more than 350 million pairs of running shoes purchased and discarded annually, the contribution they make to this alarming figure is more than substantial.
A large part of the problem is the way in which current running shoes are designed and manufactured, with the average pair made up of 52 co-moulded, glued and stitched parts.
Through considered forethought of the design and manufacturing process, a complete ‘Transition’ shoe is made up of just five, 100% recyclable, clip-together parts, reducing the amount and cost of waste produced, and raw materials and bonding agents used by more than 70%.
Furthermore, ‘Transition’ provides real ergonomic and anthropometric benefits to users. Before adopting the barefoot running style, there is a need for runners to progress through a transitional period in order to build up muscle strength and support in their lower legs and feet. Features of the shoe, such as the unique three-stage interchangeable sole system, enable this.
As the un-sustainable nature of the athletic footwear industry needs addressing immediately, and the barefoot running style is gaining popularity at an ever-increasing rate, the design of ‘Transition’ could not be such that it would have to wait for future technologies or materials to be developed before it could be produced, so it has been designed to be produced on existing manufacturing lines, further reducing environmental and overhead costs.
What’s more, ‘Transition’ targets a new niche market and if produced would have little or no competitors, making it a highly profitable business venture. Its appeal to consumers is also enhanced through unique selling features such as personalisation and customisation of colours and components.
‘Transition’ is an excellent design solution.
Potential production materials:
Biopolymer plastics whose components are derived entirely from renewable raw materials and are completely biodegradable such as: Polysaccharides, Lipids, Proteins, Polyesters, and Polymers like Natural Rubber.
Natural Bamboo textiles could also be used as they have many unique properties such as being light and strong, provide excellent wicking properties and are more sustainable than most textile fibres.
Two low cost high output core-manufacturing processes would be used; injection moulding for the sole, upper and clip, and machine assisted labour for the fabric inner.
‘Transition’ has been designed to make use of these traditional manufacturing methods in an effort to keep set-up costs down so that when the shoe is launched onto the market it can be done so at a highly competitive and profitable price, and to further prove the ease of producing sustainable solutions to everyday products.
Nick was born in Auckland New Zealand and will be graduating in April 2011 with a Bachelor of Industrial Design (Hons) from Massey University New Zealand. He has a passion for design and the manufacturing process of products and has the belief that design influences virtually every aspect of ones day-to-day life. "From social, cultural and economic development, through to the introduction and application of new technologies, as well as the environmental impacts and needs of the present and future, being at the forefront of design allows you to make a real difference in peoples lives."
Nick likes to take on projects with outcomes that have real purpose and views design as improving and simplifying for efficiency.