Re-Inventing Shoes @ Salone Milan 2015

Re-Inventing Shoes @ Salone Milan 2015


United Nude and 3D Systems Corporation teamed up once again to take you on a journey where fashion, design and technology merge into five of the most fascinating 3D printed creations ever seen.

The goal for the Re-Inventing Shoes project is to explore and push the boundaries of the 3D printing technology for creating shoes with the largest amount of sculptural freedom.

A select group of the world’s leading architects and designers are invited to explore and challenge 3D printing technology by designing 3D printed high heels that debuted at Salone Del Mobile 2015.

Household-name architects / designers Zaha Hadid, Ben Van Berkel, Fernando Romero, Michael Young, and Ross Lovegrove teamed up with United Nude, an expert in technologically advanced women’s footwear, pushing the boundaries of traditional footwear production.

The resulting edgy shoes are rendered in hard nylon combined with a soft rubber material—a technique which United Nude, through a longtime collaboration with 3D Systems, discovered as a solution for combining diverse printed parts to create functional footwear.

The production method used is the highest quality of 3D printing (Selective Laser Sintering) in a hard Nylon and all new soft Rubber material.

United Nude has figured out a way to combine harder and softer 3D printed parts for creating fully functioning shoes.

While 3D printed outfits and accessories have been revolutionizing fashion runways all over the world for a while now, we’ve heard surprisingly little from the world’s shoe designers. Of course that’s hardly surprising, as a good, durable fit is far more important in shoes than in clothing accessories.

rem d. koolhaas

Rem D Koolhaas

As Rem D Koolhaas explained, the goal behind this exhibition was to explore the boundaries of 3D printing technology while simultaneously produce something that would get people talking.

‘We want to push the technology but I also wanted to push the silhouettes. I also wanted to create conversational pieces and shoes that are not necessarily for everyday wearing but really are beautiful pieces and conversational pieces, almost like art,’ he said.


United Nude Event

teatro arsenale

teatro arsenale, milan

v.i.p dinner launch

michael young Ross Lovegrove ben van berkel patrik schumacher

michael young (l) ross lovegrove, ben van berkel, patrick schumacher


“I really wanted to create something with a heavy impact and something that you remember,” said Koolhaas.

display set

The exhibition itself is unusual, as all rooms are entirely black.

Each pair of shoes is contained in a glass case on top of a podium, all raised up on a platform and illuminated with ceiling-mounted spotlights.

display 4

display 3

unx2 by ben van berkel


Other shoes from earlier projects by United Nude, are also on display.

One display is dedicated to the evolution of Koolhaas’ Möbius shoe, which he launched the company with in 1999.

prototypes first project

Rem D Koolhaas, Ross Lovegrove, Ben Van Berkel and Michael Young

Rem D Koolhaas (l)  Michael Young, Ben Van Berkel and Ross Lovegrove

Four other vitrines showcase a selection of United Nude’s previous designs, including #D printed shoes designed by Iris van Herpen that look like tree roots.

previous models presented


Each shoe presented for ‘Re-Inventing Shoes’ is available as a max of 50 pair limited edition.


Flames by Zaha Hadid

zaha hadid

Zaha Hadid‘s new Flames shoes were designed at the time as a concept, but were resurrected to fit in with this project, now that she finally had the technology to make them.


The black designs – which look the most like a typical high-heeled shoe out of the set – feature thorn-like spikes that surround the feet.

London-based Zaha Hadid previously collaborated with United Nude on a pair of striated shoes with cantilevered heels launched in 2013.


UNX2 by Ben van Berkel

ben van berkel

UNStudio founder Ben Van Berkel likened his grey footwear to a “hoof” due to the shape of the curvaceous shell, formed from a grid of emphasised vertical lines.

van berkel

We started off by thinking about how we could work with the idea of verticality and how you can extend the length, especially if you see it from the back.

The casing reaches all the way down to the floor and conceals the sole and foot, though S-shaped slits provide glimpses on each side.

Remarkably, these are actually easy to walk in.

‘We made a strong construction inside the shoe so that whenever you walk on it you feel stable.’


Ilabo by Ross Lovegrove

ross lovegrove

British designer Ross Lovegrove worked with Grasshopper software expert Arturo Tedeschi to create the tall fine mesh that shrouds the sole and the wearer’s foot like a curtain, and opens at the toe and heel.


“I’ve gone for extreme verticality,” said Lovegrove, who designed the upright elements of his green Ilabo designs to be as thin as the machine could manage.

‘I’m interested in the idea of de-materialism and minimum material and I also wanted to see the foot, I wanted the ladies anatomy to participate in the design,’ he explained, ‘the freedom afforded by the unbridled free form sculpting of advanced 3D printing is totally invigorating and emotionally stimulating.

We have entered a second renaissance that is like a spaceship moving away from an analogue earth into a nebula of extraordinary abstract beauty that will lift our psyche to new limits of speculation and biomimetic understanding ….. closer in fact to our true instinctive view of a non linear world. so, mindful of this moment of divergence, I have sought to ground my concept on core female anatomical beauty first scanning the foot to retain the sophisticated surfaces that hard and soft physiognomy can naturally provide.’


Young Shoe by Michael Young

michael young

The black Young Shoe by Hong Kong-based Michael Young is formed from a solid base topped with a latticed block positioned at an angle to the ground.

young  (1)

“It’s actually comfortable to wear although it doesn’t look like it, I just wanted to take a completely different approach to the way we normally work and just embrace that sculptural aspect.”

And 3D printing is obviously a wonderful option to do so.


Ammonite by Fernando Romero

fernando romero

Mexican architect Fernando Romero’s red Ammonite shoes are based on the spiral shells of fossilised sea creatures.


The designs have a pentagonal profile, completely covering the foot and ankle.


Process and Equipment

Every shoe took about 24 hours to completely 3D print using a sPro 60 selective laser sintering (SLS) machine made by 3D printing company 3D Systems.

In every case, the soles were 3D printed in hard nylon, while the upper portions of the shoe were made from the more flexible (and doubtlessly ) more comfortable TPU polyurethane.


The process starts with a container filled with powder, which is heated in places, as specified by a digital file.

This fuses the material together layer by layer until the final form is built up.

Once complete, the excess powder is broken away to reveal the design.


Each pair was created using two different materials

1) the soles were printed in hard nylon,

2) while the uppers were formed from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), which is softer and more flexible.


About United Nude

United Nude is the world’s first architectural footwear brand co-founded by architect Rem D Koolhaas and shoemaker Galahad Clark –

Since the launch of United Nude in 2003 with the Möbius shoe, United Nude have become experts in technologically advanced ladies footwear, pushing the boundaries and the continuous re-inventing of shoe making.

Some of the great examples for these innovations have come from our collaborations with great creative minds from other industries such as Iris Van Herpen (fashion designer) and Zaha Hadid (architect).

United Nude’s other footwear forays with 3D Systems include creating an interactive touchscreen console that enables users to 3D print their own shoe designs, and conceiving the 3D printed Coral Shoes, designed exclusively for Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience at Level Shoe District by Rem D. Koolhaas and his team at United Nude.

Inspired by sea corals, the shoe consists of a 3D-printed wedge with holes through its sides, a small 3D-printed buckle and textile ribbons for strapping the shoe on.


The United Nude story started with a broken heart. Rem’s attempt to get back the girl was made by downsizing architecture to its smallest and most vulnerable scale, that of a woman’s foot. While most romantic notions often prove foolish, what was hatched through romantic inspiration would go on to become a reality.

Enter Galahad Clark, the seventh generation of the quintessentially British shoe-making dynasty Clark’s.

galahad clark and rem d koolhaas

galahad clark and rem d koolhaas


When Galahad first saw the ‘Möbius’ shoe model he was immediately convinced.

In 2003 United Nude launched the Möbius shoe, which since then has been recognized as a design-classic and while the brand became the leader in architectural footwear.

United Nude has positioned itself at the intersection of design and fashion and has gained international recognition for the brand’s creative work.

Known for clarity, elegance and innovation, United Nude shoes are sold in over 40 countries, with flagship stores in Amsterdam, London and New York.

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