Re-Inventing Shoes

Pushing the boundaries of shoe design with the latest materials and most advanced 3D printing technology.

UNITED NUDE - leading footwear brand, and 3D SYSTEMS - the inventor’s and leaders of 3D Printing, are joining forces for a major collaboration project + exhibition, which is to be launched at Salone del Mobile 2015 (14th - 19th of April) in Teatro Arsenale, Via C.Correnti 11 - Milan.

A select group of 5 of the worlds leading architects and designers are exploring and challenging 3D printing technology bydesigning 3D printed ladies high heels.

Ben van Berkel (UNStudio)


Zaha Hadid


Ross Lovegrove

Product Designer

Fernando Romero


Michael Young

Product Designer

The Re-Inventing Shoes project is about exploring and pushing the boundaries of this rapidly developing technology by creatingshoes with the largest amount of sculptural freedom. The production method used is the highest quality of 3D printing (SelectiveLaser Sintering) in a hard Nylon and all-new soft Rubber material. UNITED NUDE have figured out a way to combine harder andsofter 3D printed parts for creating fully functioning shoes. Each shoe will be available as a up to 50 pair limited edition.


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.


BEN VAN BERKEL, born in Utrecht, the Netherlands, is the Founder and Principal Architect of UNStudio in Amsterdam and Shanghai.

Ben van Berkel studied architecture at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and at the Architectural Association in London, receiving the AA Diploma with Honours in 1987. UNStudio is a network of specialists in architecture, urban development and infrastructure.

Current projects include restructuring the station area of Arnhem, the design for Doha’s Intregrated Metro network in Qatar, the Raffles City mixed-use development in Hangzhou and the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

Currently he is Professor Conceptual Design at the Staedelschule in Frankfurt am Main and was recently awarded the Kenzo Tange Visiting Professor’s Chair at Harvard University Graduate.



Informed 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.

ZAHA HADID, founder of Zaha Hadid Architects, was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize (considered the Nobel Prize of architecture) in 2004 and is internationally known for her built, theoretical and academic work. Each of her projects builds on over thirty years of exploration and research in the interrelated fields of urbanism, architecture and design.

Born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1950, Hadid studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut before moving to London in 1972 to attend the Architectural Association (AA) School where she was awarded the Diploma Prize in 1977. Hadid founded Zaha Hadid Architects in 1979 and completed her first building, the Vitra Fire Station, Germany in 1993.

Hadid taught at the AA School until 1987 and has since held numerous chairs and guest professorships at universities around the world including Columbia, Harvard and Yale. She is currently a professor at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna.

Working with senior office partner, Patrik Schumacher, Hadid’s interest lies in the rigorous interface between architecture, urbanism, landscape and geology as her practice integrates natural topography and human-made systems, leading to innovation with new technologies.

The MAXXI: Italian National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome, the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympic Games, and the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku are built manifestos of Hadid’s quest for complex, fluid space. Previous seminal buildings such as the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati and the Guangzhou Opera House in China have also been hailed as architecture that transforms our ideas of the future with new spatial concepts and dynamic, visionary forms.

Zaha Hadid Architects continues to be a global leader in pioneering research and design investigation. Collaborations with corporations that lead their industries have furthered the practice’s diversity and knowledge, whilst the application of advanced design, construction and material technologies aids the creation innovative projects where concepts of seamless spatial flow are made real.

The practice is currently working on a diversity of projects worldwide including the New National Stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the Middle East Centre at St. Antony’s College Oxford University, the Sleuk Rith Institute in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and 520 West 28th Street in New York. Zaha Hadid Architects’ portfolio also includes cultural, corporate, academic, sporting and infrastructure projects across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas, in addition to national institutions such as the Central Bank of Iraq and the Grand Theatre de Rabat.

Zaha Hadid’s work of the past 30 years was the subject of critically-acclaimed exhibitions at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2006, London’s Design Museum in 2007, the Palazzo della Ragione, Padua, Italy in 2009, the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2011 and the DAC Copenhagen in 2013. Her recently completed projects include the Innovation Tower at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2014), Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul (2014), Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku (2013), Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London (2013), Library & Learning Centre in Vienna (2013), Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum in Michigan (2012), Galaxy SOHO in Beijing (2012), Pierresvives Library and Archive in Montpellier (2012), CMA CGM Head Office Tower in Marseille (2011), London Aquatics Centre (2011), Riverside Museum in Glasgow (2011), Guangzhou Opera House (2010), Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi (2010) and MAXXI Museum in Rome (2010).

Hadid’s outstanding contribution to the architectural profession continues to be acknowledged by the world’s most respected institutions including the Forbes List of the ‘World’s Most Powerful Women’ and the Japan Art Association presenting her with the ‘Praemium Imperiale’. In 2010 and 2011, her designs were awarded the Stirling Prize, one of architecture’s highest accolades, by the Royal Institute of British Architects. Other awards include UNESCO naming Hadid as an ‘Artist for Peace’, the Republic of France honouring Hadid with the ‘Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’, TIME magazine included her in their list of the ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’ and in 2012, Zaha Hadid was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.



The freedom afforded by the unbridled free form sculpting of advanced 3D printing is totally invigorating and emotionally stimulating; a new World of aesthetics that from the inception of the software, our studio has endeavored to be a the forefront of optimizing this potential within the field of Industrial Design for the last 15 years born out of architectural academic process and research into natural phenomenology rather than the self referential stagnating World of design.

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.

This is a fundamental principle in all of my work as form and structure is generated from genesis principles that guide and hold the concept true to its objectives.
Remaining sincere to the optimized possibility that advanced software can provide my shoe seeks to benefit from a structured underlying design process that innovates through systematic modeling and remodeling to find a point of convergence between all things considered.

I have used this project to establish a moment where physical innovation in materials density and layered matrix node structuring, are coalesced to enhance the sensuality of the female form whilst remaining clearly technological....ultimately the shoe has been truncated to extending the perception of verticality and in doing so eliminate weight and mass which for me is a symbol of decadence.

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.

Ross Lovegrove

ROSS LOVEGROVE is a designer and visionary who’s work is considered to be at the very apex of stimulating a profound change in the physicality of our three dimensional world.

Inspired by the logic and beauty of nature his designs possess a trinity between technology, materials science and intelligent organic form, creating what many industrial leaders see as the new aesthetic expression for the 21st Century.
There is always embedded a deeply human and resourceful approach in his designs, which project an optimism, and innovative vitality in everything he touches from cameras to cars to trains, aviation and architecture.

Born 1958 in Cardiff, Wales.Graduated from Manchester Polytechnic with 1st Class BA Hons Industrial Design in 1980. Master of Design of Royal College of Art, London in 1983.

In the early 80’s worked as a designer for Frog Design in West Germany on projects such as Walkmans for Sony, Computers for Apple Computers, later moved to Paris as a consultant to Knoll International, becoming author of the highly successful Alessandri Office System.

Invited to join the Atelier de Nimes along with Jean Nouvel and Phillipe Stark, consulting to amongst others Cacharel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Dupont.

Returning to London in 1986 he has completed projects for amongst others Airbus Industries, Kartell, Ceccotti, Cappellini, Idee, Moroso, Luceplan, Driade, Peugeot, Apple Computers, Issey Miyake, Vitra,Motorola,Biomega, LVMH,Yamagiwa Corporation, Tag Heuer, Hackman, Alias, Herman Miller, Renault, Artemide, Japan Airlines and Toyo Ito Architects in Japan.

Winner of numerous international awards his work has been extensively published and exhibited internationally including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Guggenheim Museum NY, Axis Centre Japan, Pompidou Centre, Paris and the Design Museum, London, when in 1993 he curated the first Permanent Collection.



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.

Man simultaneously has an inherent connection to the cosmos, an environment so large we still cannot fathom its true size. Its limits are still a mystery, yet its workings are visible on all scales in our daily lives. In the cosmos it is the celestial bodies, which rotate around each other in concentric turns, creating energies that we feel even within our core.

Yet it is the availability of advanced technology today, which make possible a design such as this. Intertwined in this shoe are the old and the new, the organic and the exquisitely man-made, growing together to become simultaneously timeless and forward-looking.

This shoe uses the most cutting-edge 3D printing technology both in design and execution, but the result is a shoe that could have been an object found in nature, a delicate fossil that has been buried on the bottom of the ocean for millennia.

Architect and World Economic Forum “Global Leader of Tomorrow”FERNANDO ROMERO (Mexico City, 1971) is one of today’s most relevant international architects with several on going projects throughout the world.He worked with Rem Koolhaas from 1996 to 2000.Upon his return to Mexico, Fernando founded FR-EE / Fernando Romero EnterprisE, with offices in New York and Mexico City.

Fernando seeks to translate the contemporary moment and culture through his architecture, using state of the art materials and technologies, supported by thorough, comprehensive research, and collaboration with other disciplines.

He designed the new building for the Soumaya Museum, a groundbreaking proposal, which has transformed the perception of architecture in Latin America. It has become number 54 in the list of most visited art museums in the world.

Associated with renowned British architect Norman Foster, Fernando has been selected recently to design a new airport for Mexico City. It is estimated that the project will require an investment of 9 billion dollars and is considered to be the most important in decades. The new airport will have six lanes and finally be able to mobilize up to 120 million passengers a year.

Fernando’s strong research background has lead to the publication of several volumes, notably Translation (Actar, 2005), Hyperborder (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007) and Simplexity (Hatje-Cantz, 2010). He has won numerous awards, including the Honorary Fellowship by AIA – American Institute of Architects, the Bauhaus Award (2004/2005) and Mexican Society of Architects Award (2009). He has also been a Visiting Professor at Columbia University.



Working on this project has allowed the office a unique opportunity to explore and expand within a rare dimension.

As a design office we are often working within strict parameters for client briefings so designing without boundaries on a shoe that is created to push the productions skills of United Nude and 3D Systems is rare.

Combined with our own extensive experience in 3d technology we have created what we consider a refreshing approach to the way a shoe may be can be perceived.

The process and material allowed us to create this unique lattice work that builds upwards around a heeled shoe to create a boot with the tactility of lace work that is in fact both durable and flexible at the same time.

Michael Young was born in 1966 in Sunderland, a small industrial city in the North- East of England. He graduated from Kingston University in 1992 and the following year, he founded the Michael Young Studio with the aim of providing exclusive, quality design services across an eclectic range of markets – from interiors to technology.

Michael Young quickly became one of the UK’s most sought-after young designers and revered retailers and institutions such as the Conran shop and the Pompidou Museum began demanding his work. He became known in the industry as a sophisticated minimalist acclaimed for his elegant, pared-down aesthetic design, which was in direct opposition to the elaborate style dominating London at the time.

After nearly a decade working across the UK and Iceland, Michael was enticed to Asia by his passion for pioneering technology, and in 2006 set up a studio in Hong Kong. Today Michael Young Studio is considered to be one of the most exciting and formidable design companies operating in Asia, responsible for designing award- winning icons for its clients that last a lifetime and are presented in museums globally.

Over the past 20 years Michael Young has established himself as one of the leading international figures in his field continuing to push the boundaries of experimental design. The studio specialises in creating modern design through exploring the endless possibilities Asia’s technological ingenuity provides. Propelled by the momentum created through collaboration with Chinese industrialists, the studio captures the strengthening ties between local industry and design, and exemplifies the skills of Asia’s industrial innovation.

The result is work that transcends design by harnessing some of the highest and most innovative manufacturing skills to create Industrial Art. Michael Young’s vibrant imagination and his continued ability to innovate and take a fresh approach to a seamless blending of East and West is what keeps his work relevant and increasingly in demand across all continents.

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