Royal College of Art, 2021

In simple terms, it is a device that ‘dictates’ your life when working from home. The shoes create a nudge to adjust your behaviour, which ultimately leads to a better daily structure and healthier work/life balance.

The project is sparked by the relevant insights of our post-pandemic learnings and its design is heavily driven by the underlying research.

This body of work might not propose a solution, but rather questions what will, and what should remain going forward.

nudging for a healthy structure

In a future where the boundaries of life and work weaken, this speculative work aims to reinforce them.

Propelled by the pandemic, working environments move away from the traditional office building approach, towards a decentralised remote work- ing concept. With that, the physical separation of the work life and the not-work life will become less strong, leading to an entanglement of professional and private time spend.

This body of (design-) work incorporates different psychological and physiological methods bringing it together in form of footwear for the home office environment.

When the body weight of the user puts the heel under pressure, it deflates over a period of time. This changes the shape of the shoe, decreases its heel height and alters the posture of the user with it.

The gradual change happening over time creates the nudge. But when the weight is released (by sitting down) the chamber re-inflates, increasing the heel to its former height, inciting the movement that was taken away before. It therefore creates the ‘counter-nudge’, balancing out a timed, daily structure.

Components — Constructed with traditional shoe making methods ensures repairability. The soles are made from recycled rubber, so the old soles go back to get shredded down and moulded into new ones.

Solenoid Valve — This standard, spring open, solenoid valve has a tiny hole through the centre of the plug. This lets the air escape at a certain rate, which is defined by the diameter of the hole. As its standard position is ‘open’, higher pressure is needed to close it. Taking steps or standing in the shoe, increases the pressure from inside the chamber, closing the valve tight. How fast the chamber re-inflates, is controlled by the density of the PU foam and the opening of the valve.

Materials — Sourced ethically and sustainably. The mesh is made from a blend of merino wool and wood fibres. The felt toe cap relies on merino wool only. The rubber for the sole can be injection moulded from recycled polymers.

process and prototyping from home

(ironic how life is a self-fulfilling prophecy sometimes)