The Design & Development Of Mr. Bailey’s “The Simple Things” Sneaker

This whole story started after a last minute meeting in New York City earlier this year, I won’t go too much in to detail but it was a moment that I’ll never forget – not only just casually getting to link the way we did, but what this person told me really blew my mind, and in-turn, inspired this whole project (fyi – it wasn’t Pharrell).

It inspired me so much infact, I reached out to the CONSTRUCT:10061 team (Jay Steere & Jackie Burlage) to see if there was a way to facilitate creating something new, specifically inspired by Takashi Murakami, and also Pharrell – which lead me to a sculpture they created together back in 2008 called, “The Simple Things”.

Pharrell had created 7 essential items, things he used almost daily, encrusted them in all types of jewels and asked Takashi if he could create a sculpture to place the items onto. The premise being to celebrate the simple things in life.

One of the most glaring details of the Mr. DOB sculpture would have to be the gigantic teeth protruding from it’s gums, which was a feature I wanted to try and create within the sneaker in more than a purely aesthetic way. After sketching up some ideas and a few early morning calls with David Filar from Vibram, we started to create a sole unit that took direct inspiration from those teeth, but also, as wild as it looked, was totally functional (wearable). From a story telling aspect I also asked if it would be possible to 3D print the 7 essential items found on the tongue of the scultpure (a can of Pepsi, a cupcake, Johnson’s baby lotion, Heinz Tomato Ketchup, a bag of Doritos chips, a Trojan Magnum condom and a Billionaire Boys Club sneaker, that we switch to a Timberland boot) to later be placed in the tongue of each sneaker.

Having developed the sole (essentially a rubber cage with an EVA drop-in) and 3D printing the 7 items, the Timberland GIC/CONSTRUCT:10061 developers (David Haas, Kurtis Schnackenberg & Linda Lai) worked diligently on creating the two uppers to the concept; a removable outer bootie that represented the skin of the Mr. DOB sculpture, and the inner shoe made from 6 multi-coloured layers of suede and a recycled PET bottle lining that representated the inside of the sculptures mouth.

As a final touch I worked with Black Ink Projects to further tell the story of the project through the packaging. We created a blacked out casing made from Japanese Takeo paper with a personalised black note card made from pressed colored card that when lifted revealed a rainbow coloured inner with random teeth scattered around the inside of the box, with the sneakers nestled within.

We created total of 3 pairs. Below you can see some of the many stages of the project, from the initial inspiration to line art and samples, that it took to make those pairs. Thanks again to everyone that helped bring this concept to life, CONSTRUCT:10061, Vibram, Black Ink Projects, as well as to Takashi for always supporting.

Images: Highsnobiety / John Chen              
  icon icon
Mr. Bailey

Product Designer + Footwear Architect | Founder of @ConceptKicks | www.MrBailey.co.uk

Start the conversation