A Pointe Sleeve
August - November 2017
Mankind has always been preoccupied with air as a medium. During the 20th century, air was not merely represented in visual or artistic terms, but was deliberately used by architects and designers as a material.
What kind of inspiration can be derived from that material context to the application of orthoses for humans?
What are the changes to that knowledge area in and for the 21. century?
What are the material progress of membranes and technical textiles?
Using a research oriented design methodology, develop a concept using air as a material.
Tackling the Brief
This project explores the use of soft vacuum in pointe shoes as a solution to provide better comfort without compromising support when ballet dancers go en pointe in their dances.
The problem with the pointe shoes is that most of the pressure is applied on the first two toes. Due to this, ballerinas can suffer from painful bunions which is caused when the toes go out of alignment, putting pressure on the joint. The current solution to solve that are toe spacers that prevents the toe from shifting.
The idea is simple, what if pressure could be spread out across all five toes instead of just the first two toes? What if the remaining toes could also have contact with the ground? This could help reduce the possibility of a bunion and also make the feet more stable.
But how could I create a sleeve that could mold towards the feet?
When air is removed, vacuum is produced. Similar to how we compress excess clothes in our luggages, I was interested by the imprint the vacuum left. I started experimenting with different filler materials, trying to create the most accurate mold that could be suitable for the pointe sleeve. Flour turned out to be the best. It was soft and produced the most accurate imprint. Suitable for the spaces in between the toes.
I tried different outer casings that I refer to as membranes. Between the plastic and the silicon, the silicon was softer to the skin and the elasticity helped mold better to the feet. Watch the video below for the proposed final set-up.