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As landfills choke with the remains of millions of shoes made of non-biodegradable material and (in)tangible cultural heritage is swept away or commoditized by market forces, Future Footwear stands for creating footwear that is sustainable for environment and body. Future Footwear Foundation stimulates progress in our understanding of human locomotion and sustainable footwear for body and environment.

living and working with indigenous cobblers and studying their craft and skill around shoes and feet
working together to create shoes inspired by indigenous designs but adapted to urban lifestyles while exploring new approaches and technologies in order to achieve sustainable production
studying bio-mechanics and foot health


Future Footwear Foundation was developed by Catherine Willems as part of her doctoral research at the School of Arts (KASK) of University College Ghent, Belgium . The biomechanical component of ‘Future Footwear Foundation’ (FEET) is done in collaboration with Kristiaan D’Août (Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, University of Liverpool). Design related aspects involve close collaboration with Vivobarefoot and the artisan communities that are bringing indigenous collections to the market (PEOPLE). Photographs are courtesy of David Willems and Kristiaan D’Août.

Catherine Willems

Catherine Willems is lecturer at the Fashion Department of the School of Arts (KASK) and consultant for VivoBarefoot, London, UK. She studied Comparative Cultural Sciences at Ghent University, Footwear Design at Ars Sutoria in Milan (Italy) and has a PhD in the Arts (Future Footwear, 2015, University College Ghent). With Future Footwear she focuses on the creation and wearing of footwear in a particular context. Integrating across biomechanics, anthropology, and design sciences, Future Footwear Foundation explores the relation between materials, skill, and design methods in various communities and questions the conventional thinking on design, production, and creativity.