United Nude has been dabbling in 3-D printing for a while (See recent collaborations with Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen.) and it’s no stranger to combining a high-tech aesthetic and technology in its shoes. Now the company’s latest venture is giving consumers a taste of the next wave of design. On Aug. 6, United Nude unveiled a 3-D-printed shoe called Float, created using 3D Systems’ compact consumer printer Cube, at its New York flagship store.
“After pioneering wearable, 3-D-printed shoes using a state-of-the-art Selective Laser Sintering 3-D printer, we are thrilled to deliver fully functional, 3-D-printed shoes designed for an affordable home desktop printer,” says Rem D Koolhaas, founder and creative director of United Nude. Working with 3D Systems, United Nude will guide shoppers in store as they customize their shoes using a touchscreen and printers–which can also be used at home. (The Cube 3 printer retails for $999.)
“We designed the shoe in three parts that just simply click into each other, forming the final product. The fact that the shoe is made out of three parts actually adds to the design,” says Koolhaas, noting that while the shoe is wearable (Its features include a hand-cut rubber outsole.), it should not be compared to more conventional shoes in terms of comfort. But, he adds, “the technology is developing so fast that though it’s not yet entirely clear how good it will get, it should come to the point where products can be printed at the stores with a perfectly customized fitting.” Could this be the start of a 3-D-printed rollout? Watch this space, says Koolhaas. “We are talking to some department stores that have showed interested, one of which is a market leader in the Middle East.”