Lost? These GPS shoes will guide you home! Interview with the designer
If you’re lost these days, finding your way home is as easy as clicking your shoes together. At least, if you’re wearing Dominic Wilcox’s GPS shoes. We interviewed him to get more juicy details and the backstory behind his unique pair of shoes and if we’ll actually see them on the streets in the near future. [read our original post about the GPS shoes here]
After being commissioned by the Global Footprint project to create shoes, why did you decide to go with Wizard of Oz-inspired GPS shoes?
I was commissioned to design a shoe, but there are already so many shoes in the world I didn’t want to add yet another variation on covering a foot nicely. I wanted to make a shoe that had some magic inside it. The most magical shoe I knew was Dorothy’s ruby red slippers that could fly her back to Kansas at the click of her heels. I decided to see if I could use modern technology to create something that took inspiration from this fantastical idea.
How long did it take you from concept to finished product? And what was the hardest stage in the development process?
The project took about twelve weeks, a lot of it was trial and error, working out where was the most logical place to embed the electronics. Deciding how to communicate the direction of travel to the wearer in the simplest way possible was the main challenge. Doing anything new always takes time to work through. Mostly it’s a process of getting through thousands of micro decisions while following a central creative vision.
Since the shoes are only a concept, what are the chance we could see these out in the streets in the future?
The shoes aren’t a concept, they work. But making mass production versions would take lots of investment. I’m open to the possibility of making consumer shoes but also I’m interested in developing new ideas and pushing things further. The thing I wanted to do with these shoes was to take the best aspects of traditional shoe making and enhance it with modern technology. I think a lot of wearable tech is very gadgety, it comes from a technological perspective.
My approach here was to see technology as an understated functional addition to our lives without it shouting for attention and getting in the way of our natural behaviour. Moving away from stopping to look at a screen to get information is something that I hoped to achieve in these No Place Like Home shoes.
Your Variations on Normal series has created quite a stir. Can you tell us your creative process behind these imaginative inventions?
The series of works I made for the Selfridges window are based on my sketchbooks of invention ideas. The process was simply sitting with a pen and paper and thinking hard about objects that surround me and the way I use things while also trying to find a surprise within normality.
One observation leads to another and an idea emerges from the doodles. Instead of keeping them on paper I brought them into reality in this case. Actually the outline of the ideas took around three weeks to come up with but the making process and deciding how best to represent them took about two month. I made the objects myself as I’m very ‘hands on’ and I’m making decisions and changing things throughout the fabrication process.
Dominic Wilcox has a book out too. ‘Variations on Normal’ his is collection of drawings about absurd yet logical inventions. You can read more about it here.