Vorwärts zum Handwerk – design of a shoe and a boot


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

In our modern affluent society, manufacturing shoes has become a social, environmental, and even a political issue. In the Federal Republic of Germany, approximately 400 million pairs of shoes are sold – and later disposed of as “waste” – every year. That means, on average, every year every person in Germany throws away five pairs of shoes. One out of four pairs has never been worn because it did not fit or did not please the eye. The average pair of shoes costs well under 100 German Marks. The throw-away mentality has increased significantly due to low prices made possible by cheap production in developing countries.

In light of this, the work of this State Prize winner is even more topical. He calls for quality rather than quantity, for customization rather than mass production – and quality in this context refers to the craftsmanship and techniques employed as well as to ergonomic and aesthetic characteristics. In addition, the work inspires a return to manual methods of production, and offers the increasingly dwindling traditional craft of shoemaking an opportunity to survive into the future. While implementing his designs, the winner experienced the creative potential that is inherent in excellent craftsmanship. While designing lasts for shoes and boots, he became aware of the coherence of ergonomic forms. Every shoemaker puts all his know-how into the lasts; they are the foundation of every shoe. Lasts are the basis for and the roots of the beauty and elegance of individualized fit.

The need to adhere to the principles of ergonomic forms left little leeway for change. The shoe’s elegance is based on the shape of the foot and is accentuated by the structure of the lines of the seams. The tension that builds up between the pieces is the foundation of their aesthetically expressive power. In addition, the aesthetics of the materials have been tested and the product’s proportions have been set in correct scale. The winner’s intention was to design a shoe that is both comfortable and elegant. The concept is the documentation of abstraction, of continuous reduction to the essentials – the result is a shoe with convincing classical simplicity and an implicit cut and form.

Steffen Kroll