Ahead of the ARTEFACT FOOTWEAR, FUTURES exhibition, showing as part of London Design Festival, we spoke to MA Footwear graduate Kristina Walsh whose shoes will be on display, about her time at LCF and the themes explored in her final collection.

Kristina’s full collection: Footwear Beyond the Foot: Extensions of Being

Tell us about your final collection?

My project asks the question: “What is Footwear… if you don’t have a foot?”

Footwear Beyond the Foot: Extensions of Being, redefines the parameters of footwear to encompass designs that attach to the lower limbs – regardless of that limb’s characteristics – and investigates lower-limb amputation by exploring how aesthetically-driven design could positively impact an amputee’s psychological well-being.

The collection includes products for lower-limb amputees and footwear for the non-amputated foot. It aims to create a more empathetic understanding of the body and empower bodily difference by generating both new images and new relationships with the body. To do so, each piece of the collection is designed around physical interactions that align with research and methods used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Where did you study prior to London College of Fashion?

After finishing BA degrees in both Psychology and Art History at the University of Minnesota, I was accepted into the Footwear Design Summer School at LCF. When I presented my work at the end of the summer, I was offered a place on the BA Cordwainers Footwear program at LCF. Within my first year in the BA, I was encouraged by several tutors to apply to the MA Footwear programme, which I did after laying the foundation for this project. I transferred to MA Footwear the following academic year.

What would be your top three tips for prospective students?

  • Follow your own unique vision
  • Keep working
  • Be patient with yourself

Why did you choose LCF and your MA?

I chose MA Footwear because of how the course approaches footwear. The course is one that not only honours its traditions in Cordwainers craftsmanship, but also cultivates innovation by taking risks on students and then motivating and supporting them enough to make their ideas materialise. Eelko Moorer, the course leader, embraces an open interpretation of what ‘footwear’ can be, and with the encouraging, friendly environment at our site in Golden Lane I could migrate into studios and disciplines beyond shoe-making. The combination concept and craft development made it the best place to grow.

What did you enjoy most about the course, and what did you find most challenging?

The most challenging part – wanting more hours in the day! Initially, I didn’t fully-grasp the learning curve I set for myself by working with diverse industries (footwear, prosthetics, therapy) and making methods – the collection employs over 10 different making processes. The openness of the individuals in the prosthetics community and the unfailing support of our technicians at LCF were incredible! The Golden Lane staff let me practically live in the studios to work every minute I could. And that time spent in the studios with classmates, working with our technicians, sharing our passions –they are my fondest memories.

What is your favourite thing about studying in London?

Getting lost around the city. I just like walking, feeling the unique ebb-and-flow of London, and there is excellent people-watching.

Have you undertaken any work experience or placements whilst at LCF?

While at LCF, I collaborated on projects with other students and professional makers outside of footwear and free-lanced when possible, but I really dedicated myself full-time to my MA and my project. During my final term, I was very honoured to have been awarded scholarships, including a Fashion Matters Bursary and the prestigious Cordwainers Dato’ Jimmy Choo MA Award, both of which played pivotal roles in supporting my final collection and full-time education.

Describe your work in five words…

Sensual – Cerebral – Emotional – Interactive – Innovative

Who is your biggest inspiration or muse?

Discomfort is my biggest inspiration. I find pleasure in being uncomfortable, especially if it’s an instinctual or very human experience, because those situations often force you to change the way you act or what you believe. For me, that jarring state inspires me to pick up a pencil and put it to paper.

What are your future plans and how do you think the course has helped you realise this?

This course revealed my enjoyment of design research and my desire to use design as a way of provoking exploration and activating discussion about the body and behavior. I feel work that exposes the diversity of the human body and experience, especially considering the fashion industry, is far from over. At the moment, I’m working part-time in the industry and I’m reaching out to collaborators and the healthcare community to explore continuation of such work. I have a long-term goal of establishing a cross-disciplinary studio integrating the fields of design, health and technology.

LCF moving to Stratford: What do you think about the university moving east?

The magic of Golden Lane is unique and felt particularly special this year, but I think a move can be promising for expanding the facilities available to students, particularly access to the digital technology used across our other sites.

Alumni can connect with LCF in the following ways: