SMOOSH : a conceptual approach to adaptable flat-pack shoes for contemporary digital nomads : a dissertation presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Adaptable products often present a range of possibilities for changing contexts and circumstances. Their use can also enable a way of being and operating that engenders nomadism. However, shoe studies in this context have never been systematically studied. Immense technical changes over the last thirty years have affected communication and reduced travel costs, while globalization has made remote work not only possible but often desirable. This global transformation has produced “digital nomads”, who use telecommunication technologies to earn a living whilst living, travelling and working remotely. The digital nomad has inspired this practice-led research project exploring the conceptual design of a multipurpose, adaptable shoe, which satisfies the requirements of unpredictable travel and a nomadic lifestyle. This footwear design project is multidisciplinary and situated at the nexus of fashion apparel and product design. Transformable/adaptable fashion and un-build concepts have been utilised as a theoretical framework to explore the shoe’s versatility, critique aesthetic values used on an everyday basis, and locate the shoe in an urban, utilitarian and minimal fashion context. The primary focus is on the versatility and packability of shoes, which are bulky and difficult to transport. Identifying these constraints was a creative catalyst to challenge footwear construction methods and design processes and to explore a collapsible, packable free-upper shoe. The outcome of this research is a conceptual design for flatpack Smoosh shoes, a system that allows for convenient packing. The developed concept is a footwear with a range of sock-like inner components that can be docked into the shell outer-sole, both of which are fully functional pieces that can be used separately to expand versatility and minimize luggage space. They allow hassle-free travel and offer recyclability. Smoosh contributes to footwear design knowledge by providing a novel construction system for travel purposes. It establishes that although rolling is the most common collapsible principle in the travel apparel and footwear markets, principles such as folding, hinging and creasing are far more desirable for travel shoes. The conceptual exploration and final footwear design contribute to the field of adaptable footwear by providing information for further research and development.
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Shoes, Design, Luggage, Packing