Design & Decoration S03 ep10 : Marloes Bhomer, Bhomer Shoes, [London-Amsterdam]
Interview with Marloes Bhomer
Marloes Ten Bhömer a London based Dutch product designer graduated from the London College of Fashion & The Royal College of Art. She is considered one of the most promising designers of her generation and has exhibited worldwide. Most recently she was nominated for the Grand Brit Insurance Design Award held at the Design Museum. Ten Bhömer’s shoes are both provocative and otherworldly; Her works question our perception of functionality, fusing art and technology to create an origami like production, working with materials ranging from wood to polyurethane resin, tarpaulin, steel and fiberglass. Marloes ten Bhömer is a Hussein Chalayan for the extremities.’ Wallpaper Magazine
I see Marloes Bhomer shoes not necessarily as a brand name. What I’m trying to do with my work
is I’m trying to redesign what a shoe could look like and that’s what is really important to me.
I studied classical ballet. I think that’s where the fascination for shoes and kind ilrilystic poses
come from. Ballet shoes are made in such a way that you can actually stand on your toes on them
which is impossible otherwise.
A shoe is quite extreme in terms of being able to stand on it and being able to walk in it, so not
only does it have relationship to style, to identity, but it also is structural object like a bridge, like
piece of architecture. If you calculate the strength that a shoe needs because it ends up in
especially a stiletto, in less than a square centimetre but it holds your whole body weight in motion
is quite extreme.
A shoe traditionally is made really by layering and putting some different materials together in one
object that is impossible to take apart if you design the shoe in a different way it could mean
maybe be taken apart and parts could be recycled or it could have a different life.
I always knew that I wanted to go to art school, it’s called Artest it’s where Fitz Von Rolf studied
so it has quite a reputation. I decided to study product design and mostly because the course allows
you to make things and I always loved doing things by hand because you get an understanding of
I love making things by hand so in fashion it’s called moulage it’s where you have a doll, a shape
of a form and you drape around it and this is how this shoe started. I basically had a last which is
the like a stylised form of the foot and then as I was like cutting and folding around it I created the
shoe. So here you see the flat pattern and is here are some of the stages of making this shoe and
there is actually one sample of this material hanging here and it’s a vegetable tanned leather which
means that there’s no chemicals used in the tanning process, which means that it’s really malleable
and what’s amazing about this particular one is that you can wet it and stretch it over a form and
it’ll stay exactly the shape you want it to stay in.
Within that course there were two tutors that one of them had her own shoe label called Lola
Pagola and the other just had a total fascination for shoe design and because of that there is a
tradition in this course that the footwear gets made in this department rather than the fashion
department and it has of course also practical reasons because there’s that’s where all the
machinery is, the woodcarving, the laminating all the machinery that allows you to make these
I pick and choose so sometimes industry sometimes fashion. Sometimes craft yeah absolutely it is I
think a lot of material technology and different processes are, come from craft and I quite like that.
I love the skill of it, I like the way that shoes are related to identity, to style, fashion and they are a
structural object so for me they’re kind of the perfect and they’re a skill that is manageable.
And so for rotational moulding you usually go to a company but I thought it would be really nice if
I had my own rotational moulding machine actually because that gives me the freedom to do
whatever I want to do tests to see if you only rotate it one way how the shoe then turns out to be, so
I work together with mechanical engineer to make the machine that you can see right there. The
mould box is embedded or hangs suspended in the machine and it rotates. I then had it 3D
prototyped so I have an actual object of the shoe and I casted that in rubber. This thing is done
suspended in that rubber mould so the cavity is basically the negative of the shoe and this is
hanging inside it. And the first, the first tests were actually quite promising, it didn’t quite want to
do that properly but as you can see it’s hollow inside and you can see the shoe construction so even
though the process doesn’t work exactly how I wanted it, it does work in terms of making
something wearable or is working, so in the exhibition I had a whole row of the tests that some
would work as a shoe, some wouldn’t but they all were shoes. And we’re working, this is one of the
final ones where it really worked quite well but we’re still doing material tests. Sometimes we
have to add like liquids to make it more liquid or to set quicker and so we’re actually at the
moment working on plastic transparent mould so we can see what actually goes on inside when
The shape of a foot is such a complex thing, I kind of make it in 3D with actual material with
plaster with leather and cardboard and I make a shape and then either recreate it by measuring it or
I scan it in 3D but sometimes I also design shoes that are not computer related and I make them by
hand by making tests. Very rarely does it start with a sketch.
Kostas: What about these pieces here?
Those are the construction on the inside so they’re, there’s the metal shank that you always need in
a shoe, otherwise you just won’t go flat but then to make it comfortable and not stick out in your
foot there’s a form around it and then that goes inside there.
I think carbon fibre is an interesting material within the footwear industry at the moment, it’s, can
still push a lot of boundaries and it has existed in the footwear industry especially in the
orthopaedic footwear industry so it’s not that foreign a material to experiment with. When I’m
talking to people that make shoes and I talk about carbon fibre it’s something accepted whereas if
it’s rubbers or other kind of materials and techniques, like rotational moulding, people are a little
bit less willing to see the potential in that.
I love designing things that kind of remind industry of efficiency because I think it’s a really nice
way to convincing that there’s something right there or you convinced enough functionality but of
course these shoes always question, so that’s why those shapes and forms work.
I always find it really funny when people ask me are they comfortable. As if a high heeled shoe has
ever been comfortable.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Marloes Bhomer, Bhomer Shoes, London-Amsterdam