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The Future Fit: 3D Printed Float Shoes by United Nude

01.13.15 | By
The Future Fit: 3D Printed Float Shoes by United Nude

United Nude’s co-founder Rem D Koolhaas is committed to building something different for the architecture of the foot – specifically shoes and how they’re designed and made – turning to affordable 3D printers to inject high fashion footwear with high technology design. Koolhaas (yes, nephew of the famous architect) comes to fashion with a master’s degree in architecture from the Technical University of Delft in Holland, his pedigree and accreditation evident reviewing United Nude’s collaboration with Zaha Hadid and footwear inspired by Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim. The company’s Float shoes move beyond inspiration and collaboration, introducing fully functional 3D printed shoes made from a consumer-priced 3D printer, parallel to the experimental trends revolutionizing architecture and industrial design today.

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Three individual components are printed and then interlocked together to form an unconventional, non-heeled, platform shoe. Koolhaas notes the Float shouldn’t be compared to conventional shoes; although wearable and available for pre-order, the Float is an avant-garde experimentation in manufacturing and design, a fashionable extension of the nascent 3D printing world, hinting at a future when buying shoes will be a process of browse, download, and press “print”.

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“We designed the shoe in three parts that just simply link into each other, forming the final product. The fact that the shoe is made out of three parts actually adds to the design. To make the shoe more comfortable we added a hand cut rubber outsole. Even though this shoe is wearable, I don’t think it’s to be compared with any more conventional shoes in regards to comfort (the shoes require the addition of a softer rubber sole since the three components are made of rigid plastic), but that’s also not the point of this design. This design is about creating something beautiful & interesting and it’s about experimenting, moving forward and about learning.” – Rem D Koolhaas, co-founder of footwear brand United Nude.

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Four $999, dual material, 3D Systems Cube 3 printers have been installed at the United Nude’s flagship store in Soho, Manhattan.

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United Nude’s Float 3D printed shoes are currently available only as pre-order.

Gregory Han is Tech Editor of Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at gregoryhan.com.