Our on-and-off work (the combined time was about two months) on this project has culminated in this latest iteration. At first, we were focused on the mechanism, and how to make the concept of an adaptive high heel come to life. We made a few different prototypes, but we liked the idea of the shoe constructed out of different parts, so the actual heel could fold down into the rest of the shoe, which would also create a unique, interesting design. We found a template for the outline of a high heel, and from that created a high heel in a modeling software called Rhino. The sole was split in two and hinged, just below the toe, to make an easier (and possible) transition from low to high positions. The bottom of the heel component was hinged to the lower sole, so both pieces could move. The heel and upper sole were notched together, rather than hinged, but the notch we designed in this initial iteration was weak and not secure. The overall shape was also not stylish, uncomfortable, and led to a certain fragility that meant we didn’t feel safe walking on it.
With new knowledge on high heel design, we remodeled the notch and designed our own shoe shape. Where our first iteration was too skinny, this iteration was too big. Inspired by an actual human foot, it was more comfortable but still drastically lacking in style. Although we wanted to be distinct from a typical high heel, we also wanted our product to look as good as possible. The new notch was also much too tight, and required the user to pull at an unreasonable angle and with unreasonable strength. We also added slots to the side of the upper sole and base, for lacing straps.
For our spring independent project, we fixed the remaining problems, with a focus on making the heel user-friendly and beautiful. One of our more major accomplishments was the addition of straps, which took many iterations and adjustments in the design of the heel. We wanted the attachment method to be as discreet as possible, so we experimented with a lot of different methods for concealment. We were drawn to lacing the straps through the back of the heel, which is mostly not paid attention to. After trying horizontal slots, four slots, side slots, and slots that went through the heel entirely, we decided on simplicity: one vertical channel (which is the equivalent of two slots), and one slot in the base, which is mostly hidden in the new reveal. Jenny Milwid, a professional leatherworker, came in to teach us about using leather and lend us her tools and high-quality leather. From there, we cut our own straps with holes and buckles, and made two for each shoe. We also redesigned the shape of the shoe to be both distinct and beautiful, and made a notch that can attach securely as well as detach easily.