Dr Catherine Willems, School of Arts, Ghent University College, Belgium 'Future footprint.'

1:00pm - 2:00pm / Tuesday 11th February 2020 / Venue: William Henry Duncan Apex Building
Type: Seminar / Category: Research / Series: Institute of Ageing & Chronic Disease seminar series
  • 01517949003
  • Suitable for: Staff and students
  • Admission: Free to staff and students
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‘Future footprint’ is a presentation that explores the relation between gait (walking) and context. During the talk I bring three disparate fields together: traditional footwear in very different indigenous contexts (Kolhapuri in India, Sami in Finland, and JuIhoansi in Namibia), the biomechanics of the human foot (work done with the University of Liverpool), and advanced technology for 3D measuring and printing. While taking cues from ancient knowledge and craft the research wants to guide us towards a cleaner and fairer future, and in a way it leapfrogs more than 150 years of industrialisation, with all its attendant afflictions – environmental destruction, depletion of natural resources and extreme global inequality.

Catherine Willems (PhD) combines her work as designer, lecturer and researcher. She teaches footwear design at the fashion department of KASK & Conservatorium, the school of arts of HOGENT and Howest (Belgium). With an educational background in Comparative Cultural Sciences at Ghent University (BE) and Footwear Design at Ars Sutoria in Milan (IT), Willems graduated with a PhD in the Arts, co-supervised by Kris D’Août, in which she combines biomechanics, anthropology and design sciences. She explores the relation between materials, skills and design methods in various communities and questions the conventional thinking on design, production and creativity. Inspired by the convergence of traditional wisdom and modern technology, Willems has now embarked on a follow up study, Future Footwear 2.0, which aims to bring sustainable production and individual health needs closer together through 3D printing. Early 2017 she founded ‘Future Footwear Foundation’ to scale up global activities and sustain the convergence beyond term-limited research. She fosters collaborations between artisans, students, and synergistic units in academia and private sectors around the world. Early 2020 an Industrial Research Fund has been granted to Willems to validate her output and refine her biomechanical and design proof of concept. Host: Kris D'Aout