Chilote House Shoes (Indoor Shoe) by Stiven Kerestegian
2011 - 2012, Golden A' Social Design Award Winner
Inspiration
The main inspiration for this product were the local social and a material resource available in the Chilean Patagonia. We could not have designed this product in a studio in any major city as the discoveries and opportunities identified were a direct result of our interaction and relationship with the local culture, communities and industry.
Creativity
The Chilote Shoe is a design-craft product made 100% by hand in the Chilean Patagonia using only repurposed and up-cycled salmon leather and natural wool. This simple, noble, extremely comfortable and highly sustainable indoor shoe redefines the concept of inclusive design and conscious consumption. It is the result of the synergy created by three valuable assets; design guided craftsmanship, noble renewable materials from the Patagonia, and a disruptive socially inclusive manufacturing ecosystem. The challenge was to create a highly sustainable opportunity that redefines the meaning of social inclusiveness, eco-materials and processes as well as what is desirability and commercial viability. In this context, we needed to go beyond the traditional limitations imposed on sustainability measures of current manufacturing practices where incremental steps allow only small iterative improvements. Instead, we began focusing on the most eco-friendly materials and production methods available that were compatible with the local craftsmanship and social realities. Those limitations turned out to be the enablers of the Chilote House Shoe's universal appeal not only for it's aesthetic and functional qualities but also by providing a highly innovative story-line that embraces sustainability's requirements as an advantage instead of as a limitation. In order to create something really meaningful and compelling we needed to deliver more than just a great product design, we needed to create a whole model or ecosystem around the product’s complete life cycle. The best example of this would be it's groundbreaking inclusive manufacturing method that synchronizes a network of independent artisans, each contributing their respective craftsmanship in a virtual assembly line. The manufacturer’s role within this methodology is completely untraditional being that most of the production is outsourced to small, self organized groups of individuals that form part of our production community. In turn, the company's core responsibilities are focused on raw material sourcing, local training workshops, shipping and receiving synchronization and iterative quality control procedures. This innovative methodology creates measurable commercial and social value for all the participants involved in the products complete life cycle. Everyone from the artisan to the final consumer plays a key role as an enabler of the highly ethical model. All this information is shared with complete transparency and can be accessed by scanning the unique QR code assigned to each unit. The Chilote House shoe is an example of how sustainable design thinking can enable groundbreaking inclusive production methods for highly desirable, responsable and commercially successfull products.
Design Challenges
The problem was proposed as; how do we think globally and act locally? The challenge was straight forward, to create a highly sustainable opportunity that redefines the meaning of social inclusiveness, eco-materials and processes as well as what is desirability and commercial viability. The opportunity was identified through the manifestation of local social and material resources in the Chilean Patagonia. We needed to go beyond the traditional limitations imposed on sustainability measures of current manufacturing practices where incremental steps allow only small iterative improvements. Instead, we began focusing on the most eco-friendly materials and production methods available that were compatible with the local craftsmanship and social realities. Those limitations turned out to be the enablers of the Chilote House Shoe's universal appeal not only for it's aesthetic and functional qualities but also by providing a highly innovative story-line that embraces sustainability's requirements as an advantage instead of as a limitation. We felt that in order to create something really meaningful and compelling we needed to deliver more than just a great product design, we needed to create a whole model or ecosystem around the products complete life cycle.
Production Technology
Materials: Salmon Leather: Repurposed and up-cycled salmon leather is extremely durable and resilient but can feel as soft as suede and is naturally very flexible and elastic. It is considered an exotic leather because of it's unique natural scaly pattern but unlike other exotics, it is completely renewable being a by-product of the commercial salmon industry. Natural Wool: Free range patagonian sheep wool is one of the best insulating materials available, it absorbs moisture and repels water, it filters air allowing the skin to breathe and has self cleaning capabilities that do not require any industrial process. Production Methodology: A synchronized network of independent artisan women organized in a highly inclusive and ethical production ecosystem that is compatible with their cultural realities. These production groups are organized in local social clubs lead by a lead artisan who micro manages the local production. Each social club then becomes a sort of micro-production plant that consolidates from the individual artisans in that community before we consolidates the production from several of these communities. The project creates a structure and model that promotes independence, self organization, leadership and accountability with a source of income that is both dignified and economically rewarding all just a few steps away from their homes. This model is very attractive for the participants as it allows them to tend to their family obligations and save time and money in travel and transportation. It is also worthy of mention that there is a very positive self rewarding element to this model as most participants have communicated a sense of pride and belonging that is not achievable by any other readily available source of income for them.
       
     
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