The Growing Sneakers
MA Eco-Social Design – Graduation Project
The Growing Sneakers project began where my sneaker-head meets my passion for natural sciences, aiming to merge footwear design with microbiological experiments.
Sneakers are a great example of the importance of footwear as cultural objects, personified by people with subjective meanings. They also bear a huge eco-social agency: their linear life cycle, in terms of quantity and quality, is burdening on the ecological and sociological spheres of the world. Sneakers need a (circular) revolution.
The importance of mushrooms for the Earth has been already stated as vital for entire eco-systems and biodiversity. Now, they are also becoming a contact point between humankind and nature through collaborations: materials can be grown from fungal mycelium in pre-determined shapes instead of being industrially manufactured. Technological advancements are eventually leaving pace for biological ones.
Proof of Concept
The project saw its life at the Master Eco-social design at UniBz, with the support of my two supervisors – Aart van Bezooijen and Luigimaria Borruso. A sustainable shoe, between traditional and digital craft, was designed in collaboration with Salewa (Oberalp Group). Meanwhile, experiments with mycelium-based materials were carried out inside FaST Lab, the laboratories of Science and Technology faculty at UniBz. Eventually, Petri dish micro-moulds were used to let mycelium grow following the sneaker components’ shapes.