Helen Kirkum, sneaker sculptures

  • University of Northampton

In a Masterclass with Helen Kirkum, Club members from the University of Northampton Art&Design Club created sneakers using household waste. The workshop guided them to create an unexpected and unconventional sneaker design and to find new value in waste materials through graphics, shape and style.

University of Northampton alumni, Helen talked through her experience and education, including a degree at the Royal College of Art, which led her to pioneer sustainable shoe design in her current studio. Helen Kirkum Studio, producer of handmade bespoke sneakers, have worked with brands such as Adidas and Yeezy.

To launch the Masterclass, Helen explained the ‘Sneaker Sculptures’ brief. Starting with a drawing exercise, Club members were encouraged to draw a sneaker in 30 seconds, draw a sneaker with their eyes closed, complete a continuous line drawing of a sneaker and finally use their less-dominant hand only. This exercise introduced members to unexpected and unconventional ways to generate ideas without relying on being precise and refined.

After Helen explained the step-by-step process of creating a ‘shoe last’ using cardboard, which would form the base of their creations, Club members began creating their sneakers. With a pile of recycling in the middle of each table, members sought out interesting graphic design elements to incorporate into their work. Towards the end of the session, each shoe was professionally photographed, and some Club members even tried theirs on.

To conclude the Masterclass, members drew their sneakers in an exploratory exercise, aiming to elevate their sneaker sculptures into tangible design ideas.

Each sneaker will be on display in the Summer Show at Somerset House, 4 June – 12 June 2022.

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