“If the key commandment of glamorous, upscale shoe design for women is to amplify and exaggerate the curves of the human foot, ten Bhömer’s shoes are riotous and sensuous sinners” —Shumon Basar
Looking at much of the work produced in the two-dimensional sphere, it is easy to forget about the processes that lie beneath clean, organized, designerly surfaces. This morning, the work of Dutch shoemaker Marloes ten Bhömer caught me off guard, in the best possible way, with a joyful reminder that I am the descendant of not just graphic- and type- designers, but of a whole world of product designers, architects, fashion designers and artists that have preceded me. I, for one, am a graphic designer not merely thanks to calligraphy books, type specimens and graffiti, but thanks to BMX bikes and, notable to this post, shoes.
Then, as an avid BMXer and skateboarder, all I knew myself as was a lover of plywood ramps and dirt mounds. But the budding designer was taking shape amidst those humps and half-pipes. When I was finished scraping elbows and banging knees, I would abandon my two favorite constructs and trade them in for a tattered notebook, in which overflowed pages upon pages of variations on the classic bike frame and the skate shoe. The notebook was the closest thing I knew to a test tube, and the skate ramps and dirt mounds were nothing short of a virtual teenage design laboratory.
Now, seeing deep-rooted passion for form in the work of ten Bhömer, I cannot help but celebrate our familial connectedness.
Her work is architecture for the foot, reminding me of buildings as they exist midway through their construction. Each visible form tells the story of its purpose and how it came to be. Every shape she crafts speaks to the act of construction, to the joy of process. Her shoes are, as one design critic described them, “riotous and sensuous sinners” — an homage to process, if I ever heard one.