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A Tribute to Camper by Hella Jongerius

By highlighting the craftsmanship and detailing of the shoes, Hella Jongerius gave four iconic Camper shoes a fresh makeover.

By Editor Design.nl /asdf 01-05-2009

"When Camper asked me whether I would like to design a new shop for them, or a new shoe, I didn’t have to think much about it. I’m not a shoe designer, but being somebody with an eye for beautiful shoes I was intrigued by the challenge. So I decided to continue where the former shoe designers of Camper stopped."

Hella Jongerius is specialised in product, furniture and textile design. What characterizes her work is her being attuned to the Zeitgeist on many levels. With a keen eye for beauty, colours, surfaces and detailing, she knows how to translate contemporary taste into products in which the past is not ignored. This mentality goes well with the philosophy of Camper, which, according to Jongerius, has created some magnificent designs over the years, shoes that have proven themselves in many ways. Classics. Some of the shoes have become so familiar they might even be called archetypal shoes. Those were the shoes she decided to work on. Consistent with her usual way of working Jongerius did not want to start from scratch, with an empty sketchbook, but continue a process, much in the way scientists do. From the archive of Camper she chose four existing shoes: Pelotas, Peu, Imar and Brothers. With the fresh look of the outsider Jongerius dived into the concepts hiding underneath their skins, and analysed their character and attractiveness. From the onset it was clear that the shoes did not need to be ‘improved’. However, their most defining features deserved to be highlighted…and they could benefit from the characteristic Jongerius signature.

The result consists of two shoe collections, winter 2010 and summer 2010 - new Camper designs in which treasures from the archives meet the DNA, or more literally the fingerprint, of Jongerius. At the start of the design process, in order to analyse the link between the two, Jongeriuslab created Footwear investigation charts to look at their personal prefrences with regards to Camper shoes and Jongerius’ products. "What astonished me most was the speed of the creative process, familiar in the world of fashion, and the enormous expertise", Jongerius says. "Before, I had no idea of the amount of parts a shoe contains. All those parts, and all the tiny details that are necessary to turn them into a unity, need to be designed and taken care of. Colours, forms, materials - they all come together in a collage of piled up details, a beautiful system. The production process is exactly what any designer would dream of. The starting point for any shoe is always the uncompromised design. A small group of very specialised craftsmen work out the prototypes in the Camper workshop. Only then the industrial process, the research of how to make large scale reproduction possible, would take over. In the designs sometimes the accent was on elegance, sometimes we, the team of Jongeriuslab, opened up a new world of possible closures, a new rhythm in patterns. Or we infused the shoe with the idea of imperfection and randomness, qualities which I think contemporary times are in need of."

Images and text courtesy of Camper.

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