Sense of Design

Sense of design

By Kate from Poland

(A first time volunteer in the museum)

I decided to be a part of the Virtually Shoes project because I used the shoe archive as a student when I studied fashion, footwear and accessories in Northampton. So it felt natural to follow my passion and interest. Designing for me is not only following trends but researching inspirational places. The historical context is very important for deep and strong design.

Exploring shoe boxes is like opening chocolate boxes; hiding little or big surprises. Finding different styles of shoes; discovering unexpected silhouettes, eye-catching styles, colours or even brand names. Fashions have changed over time with combining developments in shoe components and leathers.

Handmade shoes are most exciting for me because they are designed and made with extreme attention to detail. For example a hand painted heel, stitching details, carefully chosen leather or even the colour. Each box of shoes has personal story and we are discovering them from museum archive. Being here is incredibly rich sources of deep and visual research inspiration with all sorts of historical references.

During of my work with the project, I found wonderful pair of woman’s shoes dated 1960 (maker: Merrywell) that reminded me Marc Jacobs a pair of contemporary ‘reverse” heel at his Spring 2008 collection.

Merrywell Shoes

Merrywell Shoes

His variation of the backward heel shoes are excellent example of re-interpretation of the past design into the modern fashion industry.

For another example of detail transformation, I found a pair with amazing gold leather wings details on very classic woman court shoe style. The gold wing detail reminds me of Jeremy Scott’s collection for Adidas.

Gold Wing Shoe

Gold Wing Shoe

Click on the link below to see the shoe below:

In both examples I see inspiration of the themes concept developed into a final product in a new and different ways of design. The most obvious details, like heel or wing, can be subject of creative process of designing. And my favourite quote shoe designer Salvarore Ferragamo explains sense of design.

How else I explain my sense of design?

I do not have to search for styles. When I need new ones I select from those that present themselves to my mind as I select on apple from the dish upon my table”

Salvatore Ferragamo. 

If you are interested in volunteering on the Virtually Shoes project please get in touch at



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