“Can design be used as a tool to improve psychological well-being and facilitate new empathetic relationships with others as well as with one’s self?”

 

FOOTWEAR BEYOND THE FOOT: Extensions of Being redefines the parameters of footwear to encompass designs that attach to a lower limb – regardless of that limb’s characteristics – and explores mind-body connections by directing attention to the effect such designs have on psychological well-being. The final collection of footwear tools, which includes products for amputated lower-limbs and the non-amputated foot, aims to create both new images of the human body and more empathetic relationships with it.

Research into the practices of the prosthetics industry and the nuanced psychological experiences some amputees face post-amputation led to a focus on designs that encourage interactions relating to clinical research findings, interview responses, or techniques employed in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In this way, FOOTWEAR BEYOND THE FOOT: Extensions of Being looks to advance positive well-being by promoting emotional intelligence and showcases the potential for design to support a person beyond their physicality.

The collection balances an artistic, hands-on approach to form development with implementing componentry engineered for user functionality. The final products were sculpted by hand before implementing appropriate industrial and digital manufacturing processes. By utilizing this combination of handcraft and 3D technology during manufacturing, these tools can to be made bespoke and then become widely available and customizable through file sharing.

An extensive thesis accompanies the product collection. Research references are available upon request.

2017

Materials: Silicones, Foams, Resin, Fiberglass, Sterling Silver, Brass, Steel, SLS Nylon, Thermoplastics

Photography: Celia Tang // Illustration: Kris Walsh