Footwear is constantly evolving. And so are we.

Footwear Design | Tools & Processes

Footwear design is like an iceberg. On the surface, we’re simply creating shoes. But, when you dive deeper, we’re utilising a wide variety of disciplines, techniques, and knowledge to achieve winning results.

Shoes are ancient. And for thousands of years, humanity has co-evolved alongside our footwear. Shoes have changed from modest protective foot coverings to performance-enhancing, highly specialised wearable tools. Stability, rebound, propulsion, traction…the mix is different for every requirement. And when you design footwear, you must ensure the product is fit to purpose – as much as to the foot. 

A human foot is a biological piece of art. 26 bones, 30 joints, and over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments all working together to provide support, balance, and motility. If we want footwear to perform (and feel good!), we need to grasp the complex anatomy of the foot before we start designing. Stability from the bottom-up keeps the entire body tuned during movement, and our designs must boost motion without losing stability, support without pressure, and protect without being uncomfortable.

Knowledge sharing is our secret weapon. Discover why.

“We need to know all about feet so we can conceptualise everything from tailored performance to branded innovation; to turn ‘made to move’ products into products of desire”

– Stephan Lintner, Lead Designer.

Next, we analyse the application and the user. This in-depth (and often hands-on!) understanding of the user’s needs connects our designers with our Brand Strategy and Research teams. We examine the market, capture the use cases, and dissect the differences between brands to narrow and inform our design decisions. If you want to create game-changing solutions – analysing markets, mindsets, and motivations provides the superpower to do so.

“We like to propose new materials and applications by bringing in proven ideas from different industries. And it can generate surprising (and positive!) results”

– Margarita Navarro, Lead Designer.

Once we understand the full picture – design can come alive. At the heart of any project, several intertwined factors play a significant role. Function and emotion. Mind and body. User and brand. Crafting footwear that resonates with the user demands an in-depth understanding of our clients and their ideal brand image. And we utilise our love for physical activity to get into the heads of our target consumer. Balancing all these factors is the secret to impactful design. 

You can build in functionality using parametric design. Explore.

“Footwear is a complex and beautiful mix of culture and performance. I design sport shoes with an athlete’s mindset, seeking way to push boundaries”

– Corentin Bricout, Senior Footwear & Product Designer.

Materiality, next to form factor, is the biggest influence on how the footwear feels and performs. Shoes are a hybrid product, with hard and soft components present. And a shoe’s behaviour develops from the synergy between them. Hundreds of materials are available for application (and even more are in development!), so materiality is a constant consideration – with plenty of opportunity for innovative combinations. Our cross-industry set-up is the ideal melting pot to transfer knowledge and learnings to keep driving innovation.

Discover our 66g zero-waste shoe for adidas, here.

The footwear industry sits at the sweet spot between product design and fashion design. And both industries evolve at the speed of light. Realising this is the first step to staying ahead of the creative curve. The next step is to actively engage with the community and the industry, through podcasts, newsletters, trend reports, or trade shows. But the single best way to constantly push innovation is to get hands-on – literally! Workshops, ideation labs, and experimenting with new design tools and materials are key for progress at KISKA, as is connecting with external industry experts.

“AI is an exciting tool to accelerate the design process – and we’re already experimenting with its limits. It’s a great tool to enhance human creativity – but we certainly don’t believe it will replace it” 

– Timur Burbaev, Design Lead.

At KISKA, we create performance products and gear which promote functionality and take creative approaches to make this work. And to stay ahead, you must constantly seek ways to step up your game. Or risk being left in the dust.


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