Flexible Shoes for Walking Up on the Curvature Surface.

Flexible Shoes for Walking Up on the Curvature Surface.

Posted on May 30, 2012


My theme was choosing one of the episode of “Dirty Job” and designing a shoes for the workers in a particular environment, and I chose a job changing a light bulb on the top of the bridge. the light bulbs on the bridge are signals for air plane, so whenever the bulbs are burned out, they have to be replaced as soon as possible for safety issue.


To change the bulb, workers walk up to 552 feet high on the top of the bridge and the slope of the pole, which is curvature surface, is extremely increased as it goes the top. Due to these reasons, they are always dealing with a physical fatigue and a psychological fear.

They are wearing steel tow cap boots. Steel tow cap is not flexible at all and heavy, which causes hurts the top of the foot while walking. It is also easy to get cold or hot – The reasons getting cramped are temperature and overwork.

How could the working boots be more flexible to walking on the pole?


My concept is creating a spine at bottom of the shoes and each paw responds to the signals from the spine. The spine is a air pocket placed in the middle of shoe at the bottom, and it acts along with user’s gait. When heel of the shoe steps on the ground the air pocket is extended and pushes the paws aside, which increases the touching area of the pole.

Because the offset of mid sole is high, it helps a user lean forward and walk up to high with less physical fatigue.


For the grip purpose, there are three suction cups on the front at the bottom.

It also creates a sound so that the user can make their own rhythm along with their gait. While walking on the pole, they trust their own rhythm and look forward instead of watching their feet.


To support to their ankles and enable the worker naturally on the pole, there are different high ankle supports on the shoes – DWAYNE taught us that he put the different high ankle support on each side of shoes when he designed shoes a boxer to support their ankles and movement.

There are lacecovers to prevent lace from being untied on the pole, which might cause a fatal accident.

For two weeks at Pensole, I learned a lot of thing more than designing a shoe. I still remember what DWAYNE said to us at the first day. (If I remember correctly,) “Everything is starting from believing in yourself. With that positive mind, you can achieve anything.” “Try to be better than a min ago of yourself.”

His story and his attitude to his life change my mind set to my life.

I started to believe in myself after two weeks at PENSOLE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH DWAYNE, Janene, Suzette, E. Scott, Bill, Jamaal, Amir,…my colleagues…

I learn a lot of many value things from you guys.

J_Jong Hwon Jeong


Olukai – Footwear for the office environment by Keith Ahn


Hello everyone!

I was appointed the task of expanding the brand Olukai by designing footwear for the office environment. “The office” is not the first setting you think of when you consider Olukai’s current line of sandals and casual footwear. However after researching it’s strong brand values, I found that the office environment is precisely the area where Olukai is relevant.

Olukai is a brand that draws inspiration from Hawaiian culture. Their name, “Olu” and “Kai”, translates in Hawaiian to “Comfort “ “Ocean”. Even their logo, the Makau, is a Polynesian symbol worn for strength, good luck, and safe passage over water. They go by the mantra, “The ocean is what grounds us. The islands are what inspire us”. There are strong traditions in Polynesian culture and Olukai’s brand seeks to draw inspiration from them.


Here is a user of Olukai and also a native Hawaiian describing her point of view on the culture. This is a great example of the life style that Olukai stands for.


The office shoe for Olukai, “‘Oihana”, focuses on sensory performance. More than anything, the shoe should be comfortable to wear. In order to achieve comfort, the shoe is designed with limited seams and a comfortable sock liner. Olukai’s “Wet Sand Principle” is also implemented into the insole of the shoe and gives the user the feeling that they are walking bare foot in the sand. Also, the sole of the shoe is designed with the proportions of a sandal in order to increase comfort.


In order to follow Olukai’s strong brand values, the shoe is made with various visual cues from Polynesian culture. The sole of the shoe is to be manufactured with a shank comprised of Koa wood and abstract patterns resembling the ocean current. A Hawaiian proverb, “A’ohe hana nui ka alu’ia” (No task is too big when done together), is etched across the top of the toe cap in order to give inspiration to the wearer while he is busy at work. Furthermore, like a professional would tuck away ones tattoos in an office environment, the Polynesian tattoo patterned sock liner is not exposed and there for the user to enjoy.

Finally, the shoe is manufactured with a vulcanized front half and a heel of a traditional dress shoe. The vulcanized portion of the shoe is there to connect to the Hawaiian culture of surfers who might very well ride a long board to their office. Also, keeping with Olukai’s concept of designing shoes that indigenous islanders would wear, this shoe gives the notion that it was handmade.


THANK YOU DWAYNE, Janene, Suzette, E. Scott, Bill, Jamaal, Amir, everyone in the PENSOLE fam, all the sponsors, my colleagues…I was truly so blessed by this life changing experience and I sincerely thank each and every one of you guys for giving us this opportunity to learn from the best! This experience at PENSOLE is definitely something that will be a life long memory. I know we’ll cross paths again, so I’ll see you guys all again soon!


(getting my Grown Man On pose…)

– Keith Ahn ahnkeho@gmail.com

Adidas Youth Snowshoe by Andrew H. Wang


Hi everyone! It’s good to be back. My experience at Pensole has opened my eyes in footwear design. The detailed and engaging footwear history/design talk we had at the beginning of each day. I am very thankful for all the instructors for their commitment and heart that they have put into the class.

My design brief was to design an Adidas youth snow shoe with an attachment feature that allowed the wearer to traverse snowy conditions in urban environments.


Thank you Dwayne and the sponsors for this amazing opportunity!

UA paratrooper landing gear by Joël Greenspan

This project was an exploration into Under Armour’s brand story. With a stated mission of making “all athletes better through passion, design, and the relentless pursuit of innovation,” UA has made it clear that their goals are based in athletic authenticity. My goal was to reinforce this idea, while creating a sense of brand heritage that I felt was underemphasized. Tactical gear has been an underlying element in UA brand identity from its inception when they provided their early compression gear to soldiers, again building a story of performative authenticity that would trickle down into the mainstream and help them become the top choice among athletes everywhere.

Having viewed footage of paratroopers in action, I knew that there was a need for innovative interjection. Paratroopers are trained to hit the ground in a five-point impact motion known as the Parachute Landing Fall- essentially using their body as a crumple zone to diffuse the severe impact of landing. This is a highly technical procedure that- even when executed with perfection- results in a disturbingly high injury rate. Rolled ankles, lacerations and broken limbs occur regularly, on top of which are the accumulative damages of joint and spinal injury. With this in mind I created a simple goal statement: HELP PARATROOPERS FALL.

The design process for this project began by exploring various forms of high impact protection and ways of implementing them in a boot. However, it quickly became apparent that the design would need to work around already established standards, so my focus shifted from a boot to an accessory akin to military gaiters. An impact solution was crafted based on flexible carbon fiber prosthetic limbs. Utilizing a reinforced spring plate could not only deflect some of the force from the initial impact, but it could also redirect it usefully by helping to propel the wearer laterally into the next stage in the landing fall procedure- Allowing them to roll over naturally without catching too much friction or instinctively trying to stay upright.

Finally, having landed on the notion of coverage as a theme for this project, I wanted to communicate the sentiment that “Under Armour’s got you covered.” This was accomplished literally by simply taking the UA logo and wrapping it around the user’s standard issue boot, resulting in a form that not only cradles the foot, but also connects young soldiers to a familiar brand with strong message of performance and authenticity: UNDER ARMOUR HAS GOT YOU COVERED.

I want to thank everyone at PENSOLE and RAMP for all of their generosity and wisdom- and to all of the sponsors for a wonderful two weeks in beautiful Portland OR.

-Joël Greenspan

ROOF MASTER: Roofer’s Delight footwear. by Carlos Alfaro

Hello everyone, it’s good to post once again in this exciting blog of Pensole and Art Center, and to share our work of footwear design innovation we did during our two week stay in the fabulous city of Portland, OR.

This is the first time I embark on a footwear project because my major at Art Center is Automotive Design. However, besides my love of cars…shoes are my other passion and I truly enjoy sketching them like I do with cars. Pensole’s objective was for us to design the “unthinkable” and to create something that is not available in stores already.

My assigned project was to create a shoe that could benefit  Home Depot customers, and assist them in their trade and for the shoe to also be sold at Home Depot. Before leaving to Portland, my land-lady’s house was being worked on by a group of six roofers which were replacing the roof and shingles. I heard a couple of them say in Spanish from time to time…”Hold on,or you might fall!” Or, “Put your foot this way….it is much better, works for me”. Remembering that, I decided to design a shoe that can benefit and help professional roofers.

One of the best things at Pensole Design Academy was that we actively engaged everyday in drawing and ideating our thoughts, and with the guidance and help of D’Wayne Edwards our thoughts became more and more concrete every passing day.

I decided for my shoe to have a strong  and durable gripped outer sole for it to stay secure on inclined surfaces. I also decided for it to fit comfortably as a glove for the foot due to the amount of foot contortion and movement on the roof.

Ideation and function study process.

Shoe model and color/ material list.

I also decided for my final design to have a “split-toe” configuration making the feet more stable and balanced, influenced by the ancient Japanese Ninja warriors shoes.

Final design views.

In conclusion, these shoes will provide a very beneficial addition to the roofers arsenal of supplies. They will offer a very comfortable wear with breathable materials and no shoe lace solution for easy putting on/off, and most important of all….they will provide security and balancing for the roofer to stay on the roof.

I would like to thank our sponsors and our school for making this possible for me and my fellow classmates to have this wonderful once in a lifetime opportunity to work on our passion and learn valuable insights and knowledge on this exciting and amazing field of footwear design. Special thanks to Karen Hoffman, D’Wayne Edwards, Suzette Henri, Janene Larson and E. Scott Morris!

Carlos Alfaro.  calfaro@inside.artcenter.edu


Red Rubber Shoe

Hello everybody.

Besides my project, Portland was an amazing experience. The culture and the people are totally different to Los Angeles. That’s why this workshop was not only an enriching and inspiring workshop, it also was a cultural event.

My whole experience with shoes started with two books as inspiration. Nothing more. This brought me through several steps to my final shoe, which should engage communication and interaction.

I want to say thank you to everyone who made this trip possible for us students to go. I will remember this for a long time.

Mathias Hintermann,   mhintermann@inside.artcenter.edu

Here is my project which I did during the stay in Portland: