Posted: April 16, 2005
It might seem like a silly thing to do, but in order to develop my design thinking, I like to dissect the form and function of all the things I come into contact with.
My investigation of this shoe was centered around pressure & points. How is a shoe made to be comfortable? The obvious answer is by relieving pressure at critical moments of material interaction (‘hot-spots’). Above and on the left you can see a custom digital foot-pad pressure sensor that I developed using an LED lights and a board made up of responsive pressure pads. Using the data that I got from this simulation technique, I was able to determine what the most important pressure points are in a given running shoe.
I then used a bandsaw to cut cross-sections of the shoe and stimulate the stepping process using a layered photographic technique. From this layered photographic technique I developed a pointillist drawing. The drawing requires a little bit of description so that you can read it appropriately. First, look at the line thickness variation. Where the lines are thicker, more pressure is seen. Where the lines are thinner, less pressure is seen and less padding is required. Where you see a half circle, pressure is dominant in the direction of the closed loop. So for example, with the last line on the bottom right extending outward from the center, all of the half circles face down, indicating the pressure is coming from the floor. You can see where a division of pressure occurs, halfway through the stepping process. And the pressure then is exerted on the front of the shoe.
The drawings have been done in ink on vellum. The transparent nature of the medium allowed for me to perform a double-layered visual analysis. Each dot represents a pressure point and where the dot is thicker, higher pressures are observed. As you can see the dominant pressure occurs just below the ball of the foot near the front of the shoe.
In yet another analysis of the running shoe, I divided the shoe into various cross-sections, and resin cast the sections to be able to maintain the shape of the shoe. Here we see a real world intersection breaking down the sneaker to confirms and informs my drawn visual analysis. The heel of the shoe is the most supported portion of the sneaker. The portion of the sneaker supporting the ball of the foot is the second most supported region. When analyzing a runner’s movements, we see that the foot lands on the heel, rotate to the ball and protect from that point up and onward.