UMAN by Yassine Salihine

UMAN is a super interesting graduation project by Yassine Salihine –

‘Before the industrial revolution, made to measure was the standard. After, it was only the rich who could buy bespoke products. The shift from massproduction by companies to unique products made by consumers pushes designing closer to the user. Not only can the colors and materials be customized but the form itself can be defined. The user can make something that is closer to themselves. The possibility of a real personal touch emerges.

Fashion is the product-sphere where personal expression is the driving force. What we wear is as much a reflection of what we stand for, as it is protection against the elements. It is a skin connected with our personality. It is a skin that exposes a self-written story.

In the olden days the trendsetters were the aristocrats, Kings dictated footwear. They attempted to hide their physical imperfections. Did the king have swollen feet due to gout? Then shoes with wide square noses were the thing to wear, as was the case with Henry VII of England in the sixteenth century. Louis XIV tried to hide his lack of height, so he wore high heels. The shoes said something about the wearer, albeit in a subtle way.

Physical imperfections are unique attributes. They are a gateway to authenticity. But not by hiding them like they did in earlier times, but by celebrating them. Hiding imperfections created shoes that could be worn by everyone. Accentuating the quirks of your own body opens the possibility of a unique product. The lumps, bumps and calluses are the things that make your foot different from other feet. Together with the general shape of your foot, it’s the start point for UMAN; the hand-made genetlemen’s shoe inspired by you.

With handmade shoes a last is fabricated to help the cobbler adjust his model to your foot.  But with UMAN your foot is the last and the model. With the help of techniques derived from orthesis-manufacturing, your imperfections are not corrected as usual but emancipated. Your foot is scanned and a gipsum model is produced. The shoemaker analyses the unique characteristics of your foot and accentuates  them through upscaling. A last is produced. UMAN is created by wrapping it with synthetic plaster. The material normally used to heal fractures is now used to connect the inner with the outer.’ – Yassine