You design with your hands

Acknowledged Shoe Designer D'Wayne Edwards tests the comfort zone of ECCO and Design School Kolding

- I can see that the students here are quite physical in the sense that they know far more about the actual craftsmanship than American students. If we in America design with our heads, you here in Kolding design with your hands.

These are the words of internationally acknowledged shoe designer and founder of the ultra cool PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy in Oregon, D’Wayne Edwards. For five weeks, he guided 40 students through an intense shoe design programme focusing on sketching and prototyping new ECCO models.

Consumer first and foremost
The students were divided into teams of four and their challenge was to approach the job as professionals:

- I believe in learning by doing so I organised the programme as a professional growth process. We held the students personally responsible for their projects, and I emphasised that their job as to design for actual consumers, not just themselves. Slightly uncomfortable However, the idea was not only to push the comfort zone boundaries for the students. The ambition was also to push the boundaries for the audience at the final presentation. Including the ECCO design team who, as Design School Kolding partners, had front-row seats and jury status at the event.

- We wanted ECCO to feel slightly uncomfortable. The students’ job is to challenge the brand, the consumer perception, and the entire approach to making shoes. That’s how new ideas emerge: By confronting the unknown. We have also played with the idea of how the consumer changes over time; what will he or she desire five years from now? All of this to create a series of presentations that focus on growth and new challenges, says D’Wayne Edwards.

As of 2015 and for at least three years, Design School Kolding has entered an agreement to collaborate with the prestigious American shoe design academy, PENSOLE. The agreement has the purpose of strengthening the education in shoe design but also to inspire other areas, including the Textile Design programme by working with materials in connection with shoe design. PENSOLE’S experienced faculty will be available for an annual masterclass like the one described here. In addition, the agreement offers opportunities and international perspectives for students, which serves to shape and qualify the Danish shoe designers of tomorrow. The PENSOLE agreement was finalised through ECCO.