From high fashion, to sneaker collecting, to the perfect finish for haberdashery, people love shoes. For street use, footwear is a discipline that requires the merging of aesthetics and design; no matter how well they work as vehicles for self-expression, they simply cannot serve as accessories if they are not also, to some degree, functional. Thus, shoes are the perfect subject for the College of Creative Studies‘ Valade Family Gallery, which emphasizes curriculum with a blend of fine art inspiration, commercial application, and industrial execution. Shoetopia!, their new exhibition on view through December 16th and curated by Aki Choklat, Chair of Fashion Accessories Design, showcases a range of shoes as art objects—and in some cases, materials—blending work from a range of designers at the cutting edge of the industry with that of past and present CCS students.
Choklat is an international shoe designer in his own right, with teaching credentials from some of the world’s most influential fashion cities, and the author of numerous books on fashion and footwear design. Choklat assembled a panel of well-heeled footwear mavens and makers, The Future of Footwear, which took place on Thursday, November 2nd, during the exhibition’s opening weekend festivities. The panel included Liza Snook, founder of the Virtual Shoe Museum; Janne Kyttänen, CEO of VC firm What the Future; “rock star” shoe designer and maker Chris Francis (who has some of his designs on display in the show); and industry innovator Chris Donovan.
“We tried to cover everything possible that relates to footwear futures,” said Choklat, during his introductory remarks. This includes specialists in craft, 3D printing technologies—including knitted printing, a curator, an established designer, and one set to launch his debut collection.