The process of a collaborative first . Nubikk x DMTFC. David Mawdsley, the Footwear Composer.
In late 2017, footwear purist Daan Baetan & owner of Dutch brand Nubikk, approached me with a vision of collaborating together in pushing his brand to new limits through product. Giving me free reign to create something that represented my design aesthetic & the brands vision of bringing contemporary luxury shoes to the masses. The goal was to create a set of products which we both felt embodied a nod to footwear heritage, sportswear, craft, innovation & conceptual thinking with a touch of class.
The personal goal was to create 2 shoes that were manifestations of my visual tastes. That were an ode to the path i’ve walked since the start of my teenage years and a salute to the world that was formative to my early life.
The styles are the, “TANZA” bootie & “DAR” low. Both styles arriving in 2 colour ways. One in All black and the other, white with a touch of tan.
“TANZA” is titled after the country I was raised in until 8 years of age, Tanzania. The black trainer bootie and outer is constructed from Italian materials & utility inspired components for pure quality, comfort and user-friendly wearability. Utilising crafted edge treatments upon a contemporary format to merge the world or heritage and sportswear. A pure hybrid.
The shoe unashamedly gains inspiration from 2 specific shoes that have been a major influence on me. This was justified as I wanted to provide the end consumer with a form of familiarity, to ensure that there would be no fear to indulge into something alternative & considerably unfamiliar.
“DAR” is named after the city I was raised in during my time in Tanzania. Dar Es Salaam.
A low top trainer that merges formal aesthetics with organic sneaker informalities. An asymmetric design, utilising making techniques that are familiar but never seen before. The toe is inspired by moccasin constructions, as an apron overlaid separate to the vamp. With displaced patterns to complement the asymmetric lacing system. A freestyle designed piece with the intent to create visual obscurity within a formal setting. Indirectly inspired by the first shoes I ever drew as a kid.
The ‘in house designed’ EVA sole compliments the uppers beautifully, with comfort, stability, and visually impactful proportions. This distinctive EVA sole is very lightweight and consists out of three ‘blown up’ parts which allow an even weight distribution for ultimate comfort. Combining the sporty sole with high-quality materials and Nubikk elements make the trainers perfect for most of life’s occasions.
One of the main reasons this collaboration had taken so long to develop is due to the sole. To be frank, as you can probably tell, the final sole used holds similarities to certain proportions already on the market. The original design took hours of development for a unique pre-fabricated sole, made from layered EVA board & veg tan leather. Due to many factors such as being extremely heavy, hard (causing a lack of comfort) & not cost effective, the sole originally developed was unattainable for mass production. A fantastic innovation, but never the less the final product is just as visually impactful and compliments the upper designs spectacularly .
Phase 1 of design for me starts with inspiration. It can come from other footwear, products or random imagery that evoke the emotion you want the final designs to convey. This time around showcasing the “taste” I wanted to emulate before putting pencil to paper. Giving insight to the environments I wanted the shoes to exist in, also gaining an understanding of colour & texture.
Phase 2 is always to sketch. Beautiful, well thought out ideas are great and sometimes a luxury, because you can move on an idea straight away. However for this project ideas were loose. Literally starting from the ground up, focusing on the sole, which will later inform upper ideation.
Phase 3. Building on sketches, I typically use Adobe Illustrator to hatch out the line work. Utilising the initial last shape as a guide. Experimenting with panel placements, tread profiles and midsole thickness’. Churning out a plethora of ideas, more than shown below. As the process moves on, I figure out what works best visually and all whilst consulting with Daan at Nubikk to see where his preferences lay.
What you see below is the final 3D render of the “in house” Nubikk sole which was used on the final product. Developed by Forever PT.
Usually in Phase 3 I design the upper as well as the sole, however this time round I opted to sketch upper concepts onto thumbnails of the last & sole. The sole tends to act as a guide to inform the placement of upper panels. Moving onto more line-work in Illustrator, where I constantly tweak proportions. Finally creating multiple view CAD’s for development & presentation purposes.
Finally, it goes to sampling. What you see below are the 1st uppers on the 1st sole samples. Further down are the 3rd phase of development, but not the final ones. You may see subtle differences in these images vs the final product as they were wear test samples, used to fine tune the shoes before hitting the manufacturing phase.
The TANZA and DAR are available at https://www.nubikk.com/en-gb/nubikk-x-dmtfc
Photography by @ceeramsden + @thefootwearcomposer
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