Walking: A lifestyle?

Walking: A lifestyle? is the latest in a series of multisensory tours programmed at the Design Museum, London, and was held on Saturday 3 October.

Walking: A lifestyle?

Investigating the sense and smell of shoes and the lifestyle of walking, this tour explores the current Camper exhibition, LIFE ON FOOT, taking us through the shoe-making process before closing with a walk in the local area.

Camper: LIFE ON FOOT.
This is the first exhibition of the Spanish footwear brand Camper, who in celebrating 40 years of shoe-making in the island of Mallorca, is showcasing their traditional shoe-making skills and contemporary design practice, giving visitors an insight into the processes involved in the design and manufacture of their shoes. Laid out in 7 sections, the exhibition covers Designing, Making, Materials and meaning, Communication, History, Global and Life on foot II.

The display:
As you step through the entrance, you note the distinct smell of rubber, dominating the look and feel of the exhibition. Rubber is a key component for making shoes and black rubber was used in covering much of the display units and the activity space. The other thing you almost immediately feel is the sense of scale and height, something that was quickly noted by some of our visually impaired participants.

Camper at the Design Museum
At the entrance to the Camper exhibition.

Walking through the Designing section, the display of shoes on the left shows a range of lasts, soles and uppers, all of which are not touchable. To the right, as you go through the Making section, you note a display of tools and different materials. Along the room towards the Materials and Meaning section is a display of a variety of Pelotas, one of Camper’s most successful shoes, the name Pelotas in itself meaning ball. Uniquely, all Pelotas have 87 balls on their soles.

Several videos show the manufacturing process, with one in particular showing over forty stages of footwear production, from drawing and pattern-making, all the way to molding, kneading, stitching and packaging. An extensive display of Wabi, a pioneering shoe that explored the potential for sustainability in footwear, shows Camper’s experimentation with different materials. Cork, polypropylene, wool, mint, lavender leaf, coconut and upholstery were used as a composite to make the uppers for Wabi. Though not financially viable for the company, this was a very innovative approach to some of their design and production processes. Also on display were swatches of various types of natural and synthetic upper materials like leather and nubuck, where the different textures, thickness and weights could be felt.

Over-view of the shoe-making process:
The opportunity to review the shoe-making process was a very valuable part of this tour. Several of the participants noted that getting a better understanding of how shoes are constructed was fascinating, something they thoroughly enjoyed. Using the Activity space, we benefited from the expertise of Diana Mashigo, a Footwear designer and Pedorthist, who gave an in-depth presentation of the many stages involved in the design and making of bespoke shoes, some of which we see below.

Drawing the outline of our feet  Cast of the feet The shoe-making session Foot skeleton

Image 1: Drawing an outline of the foot is the initial stage when taking detailed measurements. Using the same principle, taking a foot print using a Harris Mat will show the varying areas of pressure on the soles of the feet, enabling a bespoke maker to create footwear specific for the users needs.
Image 2: This is a cast of a person’s foot. A bespoke last can be created from the mold.
Image 3: This was a verbal description of the importance and relationship between shoes and foot health. Here, you see two of the participants.
Image 4: The foot skeleton shows the anatomy of the foot, with the facilitator explaining how the foot functions. The lasts (the yellow and wooden foot-shaped items on the table) dictates the width, shape, heel height and size of the shoes.

The tour closed with a walk in the local area, taking-in the views of the south-side of river Thames. For many, walking is a natural part of moving around, while others include walking as part of their exercise routine. Others find walking can be great mental stimulus, sometimes taking inspiration from the views along their walk.

Whatever you do with walking, we know it is a great part of our well-being. Next time you take a walk, reflect on what it means to you, and make observations of how it influences the way you feel.

Camper: LIFE ON FOOT, continues till November 1 2015.

The next multisensory tour at the Design Museum, Displacement and Migration, is scheduled for Saturday January 9 2016, from 2pm.
Booking information will be published in Design Museum’s website Access page.

Top two images used permission of Design Museum. All other images are by MaMoMi. 2015

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