Rem D. Koolhaas on Pushing Boundaries and Redefining FootwearBy Roos Smit
A 12-hour flight can be a source of inspiration for acclaimed shoe designer, Rem Koolhaas. (Photo: Courtesy of Rem D. Koolhaas)
Meet Rem D. Koolhaas. Praised by Miuccia Prada, commissioned by Lady Gaga and picked up by the Modern Art Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, he’s the man who redefined the meaning of designer shoes.
It all started with a broken heart. Determined to win back his girl, Rem applied his architectural skills to almost any woman’s weakness: shoes. And although he did not recapture her heart, his innovative perspective on the lady’s foot did make the hearts of many other women, and men, beat faster.
All the right people, including Miuccia Prada and Sergio Rossi, embraced his first shoe design: Möbius. Soon Rem’s romantic gesture turned out to be the kick-starter of his own footwear empire. In collaboration with Galahad Clark, the seventh generation of shoe dynasty Clark’s, he opened United Nude.
Continuing to push boundaries, today Rem uses technology in a way we’ve never seen before. His latest project, Re-inventing Shoes, takes us straight to the future with a series of 3D printed shoes. World-renowned architects such as Ben van Berkel and Zaha Hadid participated, revealing their sculptural take on women’s heels — a collaboration that was immediately picked up on by the MoMA.
Whether you admire his shoes or his flagship stores — which are all designed by the master himself — Rem’s ideas are defined by clarity, he tells the AC Hotels’ “Unpacked Project”. “I love AC Hotels’ functional design,” Koolhaas says, emphasizing his love for simplicity. “At AC Hotels, all details have a clear reason to exist. Superfluous luxury is just not my thing. Personally, I don’t even care for shoes. I’d rather walk on my bare feet.”
Here are the things that inspire Koolhaas while on the road:
Disruption is a great inspiration. A broken heart can ignite this feeling, but a 12-hour flight can do the same. Armed with my sketchbook, I turn these moments into ideas for the future.
United Nude is expanding its collection with watches. I’m wearing one of the designs right now. See how it’s highlighted by simplicity? Keep an eye out for the launch, end of this year.
I test-walk all of our shoes before we take them into production. It’s nice to wear your own shoes. But ironically, to me, footwear is mainly practical.
When I travel, I feel lonely. I’m never away from my family for more than 1.5 weeks. They are the reason I work harder: to return faster.
The people at United Nude are an extension of myself. Together we come to innovative ideas and make them happen.
3 Essentials to Designing a Lady’s Shoe
Clarity: Start with a clear design and build on that.
Usability: Great shoes can be practical. The important thing is turning your design into an eye-catcher. It’s about building an image.
Elegance: The refinement of a shoe lies in its proportions. The golden tip? Trial and error. Some designers are born naturals, others can learn it. Just like me.