by STIRworldMay 12, 2022
The desolation of extraterrestrial, uninhabited landscapes in a hypothetical apocalyptic future is not exactly the most conventional concept for a shoe’s design. Or so it seems. With Eidos, footwear designer Polina Krichko and CGI artist Yaroslav Svyatykh explore speculative future concepts in the tangible form of a futuristic shoe. The enthralling creative collaboration is a spin on the classic ‘what if’, with basic sneakers depicted in settings vaguely resembling the Earth, carrying a rather unusual surface treatment of phosphorescent detailing and glued scraps of fabric. Eidos is subjected to different developmental stages of formation, mutation, adaptation, and integration - “All scenes are shuffled into a chaotic flow. You escape this world’s limitations and venture into a dark and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are unknown,” share the Russian designer and artist.
The shoes are stuck in a transitionary limbo, continuing the process of existence and procreating. “You become an extension of the earth, the earth of you. Preserved trace, impression converted to solid rock,” they add.
Currently not on sale, the bulky shoe design with the split surface, moss-like accents began as a conventional sneaker and progressed to a final hand drawing, going through iterations of sketching, and prototyping on software. “The idea took root almost organically. We are both inspired by similar things. We gleefully married Krichko’s interest in creating physical objects and mine, of crafting CGI environments. The initial idea was to build a world around the sneaker, to visualise the interaction between a world and the artefact,” says Svyatykh, a CGI artist and art director based in Moscow, Russia, whose animations are perceived so often as real, and whose visualisation became the basis of the concept kicks. He creates immersive and mystic digital environments, of empty, unpeopled locations where the concept of time appears non-existent, seeking beauty in forms and settings that question the notions of the digital and real.
Equally, Krichko is an experimental footwear and material designer, also based in Russia, who works on material exploration and handcrafting, habitually employing recycled materials and dead-stock items in her creations. Some facets of her product designs include reflections on the current global situation and challenges, concepts of the future, the ideas of psychological obsolescence, and the transience of trends, both of the digital and physical realms. Krichko borrows methods and techniques from digital imagery manipulation software, translating them into perceptible objects, as was the case with Eidos. “Together, our approach shines new light on the idea of hyperreality, where it is not a mere feature of the generated imagery but derives from the process itself,” she explains.
The CGI artist mentions that the phenomena of ‘liminal spaces’, photographs of hauntingly empty city streets during the quarantine were frightening, but in a way, inspired him to create, to probe the disconcerting. “These scenes are unsettling, which in turn makes them beautiful and poetic,” he says, citing deserted locations, far-flung planetary landscapes and desserts of ice as some inspirations. “I think one of the first things that caught my eye in Svyatykh’s works is that he is really fascinated by building an ambience and he does it in a skilful, artistic way,” Krichko pipes in.
Bringing out the power and powerlessness of the post-human planet, the footwear design is not meant to portray how we might evolve to not exist in the future, but is perhaps a closer look of what is happening in real-time, of man-made monumental wastelands where no human sets foot, the air choked toxic with waste fumes, a looming nightmarish junkyard. Krichko mentions that initially both knew they desired to create futuristic worlds, so the sneaker’s design had to reflect that. “Since the shoes have multiple elements and materials fused, stitched, and glued as one object, it is hard to recycle. The design of the sneaker suggests how those elements, which ended up in a landfill, may look after morphing and coalescing together for hundreds of years. It is somewhat a trace of an anthropocentric era,” she notes.
“For me, the most exciting part is digitisation, the idea that you can bring a physical object into the digital world and do whatever you want with it - extend or morph its qualities, create an outlandish setting, search for a proper aesthetic and feel. This is why I love computer graphics; it is an incredibly flexible and expressionist tool. Krichko’s mind-bending creative approach is pure inspiration to me, and this inventive, raw blend of the physical and digital worlds is the key point of our collaboration,” mentions Svyatykh.
Krichko expresses a fascination with wanting to try CGI for a while, and immediately took a liking to Svyatykh’s work, its otherworldly essence and the space-age style. “I thought that it would be a perfect opportunity to place and base my designs in a digital world. Collaborations are a beautiful way to discover new media and reinvent your work, and by extension, yourself. You both grow through the process and discover something new,” shares Krichko, on what this creative collaboration meant for her.
The base sneaker, according to the creators, is not based on any specific type, but takes on a shapeshifting facet, as a magnet for leftover elements – Nike Shox tooling and protective pads from rubber were covered with pieces of textile, certain parts of its skin dripping viscous acid green paint. “I have a huge box with swatches from my mould-making experiments and I later utilise them in projects like this one. I am fusing and layering various elements, sort of discovering the shape while collaging, and this way, each result emerges as a different one,” adds Polina.
The shoes, seemingly fossilised in existence, are made by hand by combining classic shoe-making techniques with more, out of the box, experimental ones. Recycled and scrap materials, as well as readily available resources, are used for the creation of Eidos, instead of creating everything from scratch and buying anew, begetting a tale of sustainable design practices. “There are many conversations around recycling becoming an industry standard, however, for the consumer, many recycled materials are indistinguishable from virgin ones (for instance, recycled fibres or plastics), so there has to be a certain aesthetic that signifies that the product is made in a sustainable manner. My designs are mostly pushing in this direction,” shares Krichko, who is considering making a sample sale of Eidos’ selected designs, including this one, for sale.