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If you've ever struggled with finding shoes that fit your feet perfectly, take heart. A Japanese designer has taken that universal need to a whole new level — and it all started with cheese.
Tokyo-based designer Satsuki Ohata was inspired by cheese fondue for something he calls the Fondue Slipper. Fortunately you don't have to dip your feet in melted Gruyere: His idea is to create custom shoes for your unique feet using thermosetting PVC material. Once the material hardens to your individual shape, you get a pair of slippers that Ohata claims can be worn inside and outside. And there's no waiting for the UPS driver to deliver the goods: It would be sold as a do-it-yourself kit — though Ohata says he wants to use a safer material than PVC if this goes to market.
In describing the footwear, Ohata told OZY they have a "barefoot feeling" and you can feel the ground.
"It can also be used as [a] slipper by folding the heel, or you can wear it without folding the heel if you want to run," he also explains on his website.
For now, the concept looks more like an art project than practical footwear, but Ohata has photos of people wearing the shoes while relaxing at home, cleaning the house and even commuting to work.
Ohata's "fondue moment" came when he noticed how the molten cheese wrapped around food. He experimented for over a year, applying the process to everyday items like a computer mouse, light bulb and pencil.
The result? He discovered that the fondue's draping effect functions like our own skin. That insight, along with feedback from people around him, led Ohata to devise the concept for fondue footwear.
Design inspired by nature (or cheese, in this case) is intriguing, but it might also smell — and not in a good way. Ohata admits the shoes are "sweaty inside for now," but he is working on solutions that include adding small holes for ventilation. Sounds like Fondue Slipper could be the new Crocs-meets-FiveFingers hybrid.
No word yet on what podiatrists might make of this cheesy concept.
This post is part of our Weekly Innovation series, in which we explore an interesting idea, design or product that you may not have heard of yet. Do you have an innovation to share? Use this quick form.
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