Inspired by the flickering light of fire, the Flames shoe is the most recent collaboration between Zaha Hadid and United Nude. Flame-like bands originate from the point of the heel, rising upwards to gently embrace the foot, while the ergonomically optimized foot bed provides comfort and support. The sculptural sensibility and experimentation of Hadid’s architectural language and United Nude’s expertise in manufacturing the most innovative designs has embodied the shoe with the essence of fire – delicate and ephemeral, yet compelling and dynamic.
At the intersection of the geometry of nature, the human body, and the cosmos, the design of this shoe finds its beginning—in the geometries calculated through mystifying yet rational natural numeric sequences. It is these radial organic movements that inspire the shoe—grounded in a moment of literal connection between the human body, the earth we live on, and the universe of which we are part. Organic geometries have been studied by some of the greatest mathematical minds since ancient Greece, and the connection between the human body and these numeric sequences can be seen throughout works of architecture, art, and design. But the human body is one of the most important organic structures and infrastructures, which we often take for granted. Our connection to nature is deeply rooted in the intricate makeup of our systems and our skeleton, empowered by our muscles to allow rotating motions that move our bodies through space.
With the design for UNX2, we wanted to dress the foot in such a way as to make its form partially visible, to highlight the mechanics of the foot and the visual effects that can be created by the shoe in motion. We were particularly interested in the kinds of images the shoe could create, both when static and when in motion. When the wearer is still, the curve of the foot can be glimpsed within the shoe and the dynamics of movement are suggested by the curving vertical ribbons that envelop it. However, once the wearer begins to move, shifting levels of transparency are created and the vertical lines create a staccato rhythm reminiscent of early stop-motion photography. The UNX2 shoe creates patterns of movement and produces a dynamic form of image-making through motion. It was also our intention to make visible the “process” of design in the final object: the digital strategy that was employed when testing the position of the foot within the shoe. So there is a kind of literal transparency, but also a phenomenological transparency that reveals both the process of design and the processes of movement. The vertical ribbons and the hoof-like shape of the shoe elongate the legs and create an almost animal-like extension.
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. The filaments or hairs have been modeled using particle systems and attraction- repulsion logistics paralleling the bionic geometry of the foot. The complex tridimensional polygon mesh provides what is termed a Watertight Geometry whereby nothing is extraneous either in material volume or functional characteristic. This modeling convergence benefits from the dynamics of gravity and particle attraction hence the subconscious references to the cosmos and the greater forces of attraction and repulsion.