Based off the 5 Levels of Creativity in Design, from A Transactional Approach to Creativity and its Implications for Education by Irving A. Taylor HERE.
I have been thinking for a while that a pyramid is an interesting way to show these levels. To help visualise and define what height you would like to aim for and in some sense also the level of difficulty and risk you face. Traditionally the further up you go, the fewer designs have been created, but could it also due to a not well enough defined goal, an unvisualised approach and lack of planning?
With Microsoft’s recent bid to buy Activision Blizzard, it seems clearer that gaming will be a key component of the Metaverse, especially since Open World video games already are a small version of how the Metaverse is being portrayed. It also makes the term “video game” sound a little outdated.
Although these are just trailers, you can really get a better sense of the breath taking vision and potential for the gaming Metaverse. The Open World format with its broad horizons, bright blue skies and fantastic creatures has the potential to be massively seductive, especially as an easy escape and to explore beyond the rigid urban settings that many of us live in.
But I wonder how will footwear design fit and compete with the endless amount of new objects and fantastic characters that will also be for sale in the Metaverse?
If footwear/fashion companies create their own worlds/platforms to trade their digital product, will they also have more competitors and go head to head with digital giants as Microsoft and Activision Blizzard?
Material development, fit and comfort will really become features of the past as lifestyle and aesthetic become more important. Which also follows perfectly what fashion is about. Hyper fashion. But what will our homes look like? :))
Digital footwear in the Metaverse? The scale of the Metaverse, or its projected scale never ceases to surprise me. Like a Googol, the numbers appear to be racing towards the unfathomable.
Another digital gold rush, it seems more people are heading Virtual instead of West, making the trek with their fingers over keyboard paved trails. I wonder what parallels if any there could be with not just the California Gold Rush, but also closer to home with the dot.com gold rush?
To lay the groundwork for a Metaverse platform, Microsoft (who also owns Minecraft) is buying Activision Blizzard for $68.7 Billion.
To get a sense of one of the reasons for such a high price, if its true that Microsoft has sold about 171 Million X-Boxes since 2001, Activision Blizzard currently has 400 Million monthly active players, so you can begin to imagine the potential and growth that Microsoft foresees.
In the context of footwear that could be projected into gaming and/or the Metaverse, if the biggest footwear companies currently sell 65 Million pairs of shoes each month, how many pairs could they sell each month as digital products?
And then, while digging in the search I came across a book titled “How to Spend $75 Billion To Make The World A Better Place”.
It sounds back to front; electronics companies are developing running footwear for VR and sports shoe companies creating digital footwear for the Metaverse. 10 years ago who imagined running in a virtual world while sitting down at home?
The future of footwear design in the digital world is hard to imagine, because the digital economy is developing so fast. Putting aside the role of A.I for a second, could it be that in a virtual reality future, special effects will make even digital footwear and professional footwear designers redundant?
Could digital footwear design evolve into added value Avatars for the Metaverse? So will mainstream footwear companies have to become mainly Avatar companies instead? Focusing on complete character designs, instead of individual items of digital sporting goods?
If you think about it, the amount of space that physical footwear can cover your body is limited to a relatively small part for a series practical real world reasons. Firstly it should be easy and quick to put on and take off, second it should remain light and third relatively inexpensive. But in a virtual, fantasy meta world… anything is possible…with enough poly-count and processing speed (unless of course users become less interested in realistic finer details as with some video games).
In a virtual world without those limitations and where “form will not need to follow function”, digital footwear and clothes will easily be merged into a single aesthetic expressions. For example since digital footwear will no longer need to be designed within physical parameters, it will no longer need to have a sole, or a collar which could mean that it will transition into a digital expression of bodywear (or even a body without clothes). The question is what kind of body? A human body, or something more abstract and novel? We will be able to design such interesting and bold Avatars, that footwear design may not stand out as much as it does today under a plain pair of jeans, or training pants.
Here is an interesting animation from a few years ago by Adobe, which I think suggests well some of the diversity of Avatars that could exist in the Metaverse.
It will be interesting how footwear, or sports equipment companies make the transition in VR should footwear aesthetic become less interesting and relevant? And will they need to compete with video game companies and the film industry as well as each other? Will some digital footwear designers transition to character design and how crowded will the designer pool become?
Nike as usual is has positioned itself well ahead of all the other fashion companies to spear head the NFT and Avatar/Character creation/development; strategically by buying RTFKT (artifact) Studios in 2021 (probably because Nike founder Phil and Travis Knight own Laika animation studio). But also the arrival of new CEO John Donahoe from Ebay and Cloud Computing also indicates a shift towards digitalisation. So I can imagine that the company’s budget for digital initiatives will be bigger than at other footwear companies. And the design and quality of their traditional product could begin to take a backseat, or at least be equaled by it digital counterpart.And maybe a lower, or stagnating design quality of physical Nike footwear is already noticeable today, as the Time to Market (TTM) of Nike Footwear coincides with the change of CEO in 2020 and a strategic shift towards digital innovation and resource and budget allocation?
While I haven’t seen much digital footwear from Nike yet, below are some interesting examples of how I think people/avatars could look in the Metaverse by Universal Everything and notice how none include footwear.
Think about it, why will we need digital clothes, or shoes, or distinguish between them, in a world where we can look like anything, from a dragon to a pile of moving rocks? A world where our Avatar can replace our full identity, not just clothes.
What sensory experiences could make a virtual world more compelling?
What would a Haptic suit mean for footwear design, both physical and digital, in appearance and function?
It’s curious how in many ways the multiple layers, structural elements and colour pops of these Haptic gloves already look similar to the design language of many new sneaker designs (click to enlarge).
Both the digital and the haptic innovations will give new meaning to footwear performance technology in the future.
Not my Nike design, but can you see the similarities? Right on point, awesome!
But what is Roblox? What is RAP (Recent Average Price)? How will Nikeland on Roblox be used and by who?
Currently Roblox is the world’s most valuable video game company in the world with more that 27 Million published games. More than half of US children have a Roblox account and half of those are younger than 13 years old, at the same time Roblox is also viewed as the blueprint for the next generation of virtual economies where users can trade virtual assets from digital shoes to digital houses and furniture. So its easy to see why sports footwear an equipment companies need to enter.
But how will the sporting goods business evolve if people prefer to spend time in a digital world instead of a physical world? E-Sports, E-Disco/Raves, E-Dating, or E-Trading, the range of new digital footwear designs and experiences will be virtually limitless. But maybe the sport aesthetic expression may be harder to develop if video game players will be free to play E-Sports like FIFA football video game as a lizard avatar, or Super Mario? And sports companies will probably also need to compete with more specialised and experienced businesses like video game and movie industry animation companies.
All this takes me back an old post I wrote years ago to explain why I was so drawn to documenting and blogging about Mexican Huarache footwear titled “A Future Without Sports, Without Sneakers, Without Huaraches?” (click on the title). What place in our culture will sports footwear have in 50 years? And if your Avatar will be a fantastic alien creature, how will any digital footwear design still be relevant?
But back to the near future, what incentives will be created to keep people on any virtual, or augmented platform the longest? Certainly if going out to bars, clubs and sporting events continues to be inconvenient because of the usual pandemic restrictions, or even the concern of becoming infected, its easy to imagine how a more life like social media could be more appealing than before.
And how will our data be used and what new data can be collected as we become more connected? Maybe even our Brain Activity? How symmetrical will our data exchanges be in a Web3 world?
…and since when did video games become trading? Can online trading replace sport? Will investing in digital shoe designs replace buying physical footwear? How much will digital life experience replace organic life experience? Simple things, but that are inherently human and natural, like meeting friends in a park, or at the beach, or pool, playing a game of football, or tennis, or going for a walk in the woods. It’s not difficult to imagine since we already experience a lot of our life through digital interfaces, instead of physically.
This is the first video that came up searching for “RAP on Roblox”, its almost 3 years old and has over 1m views. Its also by the “RICHEST robloxian”…allegedly.
Vans has also launched Vans World on Roblox.
Below is what it looks like and some of the things you can do. More info on Venture Beat.
This post has maybe less to do with Footwear than the title suggests, but I hope the video below can be a useful introduction to the Metaverse with which footwear is increasingly becoming aligned and connected. Speaking in the video is also Maye Musk the mother of Elon.
We have all heard of Bitcoin, Blockchain, NFT’s, 5G, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, the Internet, Zoom and Social Media. The Metaverse from what I understand would be the ultimate digital ecosystem and merge all the digital technologies together, including Digital Footwear.
It all seems like a new and fascinating world that is being developed, with infinite fantastic experiences to chose and new flourishing economies, but at the same time it also seems a bit dehumanising to live inside a more simplistic video game world. And will we continue to value the natural world as we increasingly lose our awareness and interaction with it?
And as footwear designers will we eventually face the choice between encouraging a less physically active indoor culture, disconnected to the physical world and/or losing our commercial relevance?
The photo below from Vogue Czechoslovakia (interesting that Vogue would chose a country that no longer exists) shows Maye Musk wearing Digital Clothes and Footwear, possibly purchased online and downloaded from Wanna Kicks.
Every now and then a technology can completely change how products are made used and look, this fundamental change is also known as a “paradigm shift”. Digital Technology has helped create paradigm shifts in almost every corner of modern human life (while the changes that Digital Technology has brought to wildlife have maybe been less inspiring).
But if Digitalisation has profoundly changed music, video, retail and banking, how will it change Footwear? Also consider how 5G could boost the use and reach of Digital Technology.
How many people will it take to design, develop, produce and distribute 10,000-100,000 pairs of just one Digital Footwear style, compared to a Physical design? Consider that with purely digital footwear designed for VR, you also won’t need to to fit and wear test physical samples, although it may need to be wear tested in a digital environment for other types of functionality for example how it’s aesthetic will hold up in a dynamic digital environment. In 2013, I wrote a post about Motion Sculpture if you would like to get a better idea of what I mean.
Think how disruptive digital technology has been from Cntrl-C/Cntrl-V, to digital images and video, often providing impressive results at the press of a button and imagine how much more it will develop and how much time and money is currently being invested in it.
And along with Digital Footwear, “Shell Footwear” (usually injection molded, or 3D printed Mono Material), seems also to be perfectly aligned to follow in the footsteps of all the other disruptive digital products that are commonly available today.
Today injection molded shoes allow for reduced production labour, but have very high initial costs since the mold costs are high.
But maybe tomorrow anyone could by themselves create a footwear design that can be easily 3D Printed and sold to thousands of social media followers online? So could digital product platforms turn into the new fashion brands of the future, becoming giants like Sound Cloud and YouTube? And what will this mean for retail, factory work and industry as we know it?
What started as digital designs created for internal design presentations are quickly developing into commercial AR/VR products and also 3D Printed Designs for commercial use.
In fact Sustainability goes way beyond chemical pollution and CO2 emissions. Beyond plastic and petrol. And I’m very excited to share this with you today.
For example should Governments, Companies and Individuals also focus on Social Sustainability goals and what would they be specifically for each group?
Sustainability is about finding harmony and balance in life in every way. I would say its a mindset and a culture. Could it be that if we don’t also concern ourselves with Social and Economical Sustainability, that we won’t be able to achieve Ecological Sustainability?
Considering the material and social consequences of our actions in these fast changing times is becoming increasingly important and ways/tools that will help us to make the transition also.
“Circles of Sustainability is a method for understanding and assessing sustainability, and for managing projects directed towards socially sustainable outcomes. It is intended to handle ‘seemingly intractable problems’ such as outlined in sustainable development debates. The method is mostly used for cities and urban settlements”. – Via Wikipedia
But I think this model can also be applied companies that make and sell products like footwear and can be extended to the suppliers that they partner with.
For a Footwear Company the Circle of Sustainability model could start to look something like this below. I tried to adapt the Circle of Sustainability above from Wikipedia and I’m sure there is much more that can be added, but it seems like a good start.
One area that I think is missing from the above model is Automation and how it can be sustainable in the social/professional context. I can imagine how footwear production will become increasingly automated and I see many 3D digital and printed models online that align themselves well with the current injected footwear mass production model.
Could “Shell” footwear be the Future (and a topic for a future post)? Made from a mono material for easy processing and especially recycling (and no disassembly) could almost certainly also be an advantage to Sustainability. But what will such a shift mean for Footwear Professionals in creation/development and especially production positions?
Also I couldn’t think of the equivalent for Politics, which I will need to mull over a bit…
Could digital footwear be a significant solution to the problem of pollution?
And wearing AR Glasses, or VR Goggles will we still need special/complex physical clothes and shoes if they will be overlayed digitally with outerworldly, cosmic, or even mind blowing psychedelic creations only possible in a digital reality? Maybe simple organic cotton slippers is all we’ll need for our feet and all impressive new designs will be digitally superimposed.
Will 5G help make all this a reality?
Almost 10 years ago, I wrote a post titled 3D Printer Art – The Future of Footwear Sole Design , at that time just a few mathematically minded computer modellers were creating incredible 3D sculptures. Now almost 10 years have passed and it’s incredible to see how 3D design has developed in footwear, beyond just sole design and 3D printing components.
With the recent introduction of Facebook Meta and the Nike trademark of digital Footwear, Apparel and Accessories, it would seam that digital footwear is going beyond 3D printing and is now well on its way to entering the mainstream and digital channels of distribution like music and movies, which could be its truest and best suited application.
The arrival at Nike of new CEO John Donahoe from Ebay and Cloud Computing would indicate at least internal shift towards digitalisation. How quickly it will be accepted and used by the public is the question. Is the transition to a fully digitalised world and lifestyle inevitable?
Assuming that the electricity required to run our virtual worlds does not become too much like it has for Bitcoin mining, it could be that digital products will one day also become the most eco-friendly fashion choice.
Digital footwear has been around for a few years and is currently mostly available and used as AR on phone apps like Wanna Kicks. But VR could be the next logical step, especially since Facebook has been developing it for a very long time.
Although it’s not clear how much poly-count and processing speeds will increase to develop such an immersive digital lifestyle, its probable that they will continue exponentially.
*Please wait a few seconds for the large gif files to load below 😉