Platzsparendes Schuhbehältnis – space-saving shoe storage


Appreciation of the winner
by Peter Nickl – Chamber of Crafts for Munich and Upper Bavaria

Hans-Jürgen Spengler is a young self-employed master carpenter who received training at a design academy for craftspeople. Completing such training requires a high level of enthusiasm, willingness to work, inertia and consistency since it only can be done on a part-time basis taking up more than 1,000 hours of leisure time.

The shoe cabinet that has been awarded the Bavarian State Prize for Young Designers was the designer’s final work at the Akademie für Gestaltung im Handwerk in Munich and gained him the title of Gestalter im Handwerk (designer in crafts). Building a shoe cabinet was an assignment selected by Spengler himself. Storing shoes in modern homes, especially in major cities, can pose a big problem. How can shoes be stored efficiently in small spaces?

The solution offered by Spengler is clear, simple and convincing. The cabinet he designed is 2.40m high, 64cm wide and almost entirely flat – when closed, it is a mere 14cm deep and can fit in any hallway. It hangs on rails on the wall and can be pulled open easily from the center by means of wheels and a small handle. When it is open, the cabinet transforms completely. Since the two halves can be pushed into one another over wheels on the rails, the cabinet towers elegantly above the room. Shoes can be inserted vertically to the wall in pairs and when the cabinet is closed, they hang parallel to the wall. The height of the racks can be adjusted easily to the size of the shoes. The problem of ventilation has been solved cleverly with the addition of slits for air circulation, and shoe-care products can be stored in the small, harmoniously-integrated drawers.

From an aesthetic point of view, the cabinet, constructed of Canadian maple, is classically austere. The simplicity of its form brings the nature of the wood into its own. The only decorative element is the center piece and this functional ornamentation serves as regularly-spaced ventilation slits. The elegant color of the cabinet’s interior deserves mentioning; its dark blue is dirt-resistant, and the slight curvature of the shelves is reminiscent of the form of a shoe.

The fact that even the smallest, well thought-through details of this cabinet are so compelling shows that it was not designed at the drawing board but rather that it is based on practice – the practice of someone who fights with shoe storage daily and the practice of a carpenter who knows how to solve such problems realistically and with ease.

Hans-Jürgen Spengler