"I knew I didn’t want to go into fashion, I hated sewing" – Nicholas Kirkwood
Buro 24/7 interviews the shoe designer in Dubai
Putting his most stylish foot forward – this Tuesday saw the unveiling of Nicholas Kirkwood's new installation at Level Shoe District, coinciding with the release of his new 'Arcs of Orbit' collection.
From Manolo Blahnik being a constant inspiration to where he sees himself in five years time, Buro 24/7 Middle East takes the opportunity to sit down with the British shoe designer during his recent trip to Dubai...
For you're latest collection 'Arcs of Orbit', was simply a cosmic theme that inspired you?
I looked into elements of space and planets, as well as the the constructivist art movement when you look at models of planets they are very similar to the structures created in that art movement.
Do you have preferred materials that you always go back to for each collection?
Well I particularly like suede and satin because the material reveals a very true colour more than what you would get with leather, as the colour often gets detracted from the light, whereas suede really sucks in all the colours. It's the same with satin, you can get some really amazing hues off it. But there's also laser cutting and certain techniques that I use a lot as well, there is always some sort of cut-out element or mesh and lace in my shoes.
I felt that there was niche in the shoe market and there was space for looking at them in a different light
When you were studying at university did you always want to go into shoe design, or were you ever swayed into other design fields?
I studied fine art at Central Saint Martins and did my footwear course actually at another university called Cordwainers in London, and I started off studying fine art and photography but I always loved design, industrial design and fashion. I knew I didn't want to go into fashion as I hated sewing. Shoes were something that I thought had an architectural quality to it and also at the time it was something that I didn't know much about and there wasn't many famous shoe designers. I felt that there was niche in the shoe market and there was space for looking at them in a different light.
When making a collection, do you still use the design processes that you were taught at university or do you have your own?
Yes, I mean I don't think you consciously know that you're doing it, as when your designing you have an idea of what you want to do but its about getting inspired, and then you just take that theme and then its pretty straight forward from there.
After your colourful collaboration with Keith Haring, is there another artist or designer you would want to work with on a collection?
The Keith Haring collaboration was great, I did it with his foundation and there was so many colours and shapes that I was able to work with, it made each shoe so unique. Now, there are so many people I would love to work with, but I think working with Jeff Koons would be really interesting and Kaws – who's art I'm really enjoying at the moment. I'm always up for a new project!
Manolo Blahnik is a huge inspiration to me, he made me want to go into shoe design
Who has been one of the biggest influences in your career, someone that you see as a constant inspiration?
I think I would have to say Manolo Blahnik, he was a huge inspiration to me, he made me want to go into shoe design. When I saw his shoes for the first time that was the moment when I thought, "Wow, these aren't just shoes, they are beautiful objects." I also like to look at some ready-to-wear designers who are really masters of their craft like Azzedine Alaia and Alexander McQueen.
Here at Buro 24/7 Middle East, we love how your shoes always have a sculpture edge to them, do you take architecture and art as a constant influence on your design?
I think for me those are the two things I constantly get inspired by. There always tends to be those elements of art and architecture in my collections, for example for my next Spring/Summer collection which I just showed in Paris, there are traces of Japanese poster art in the design so the shoes are very colourful and a little bit psychedelic.
Where do you see yourself, and your shoes in five years time?
Well I really hope to see a few Nicholas Kirkwood boutiques around the world, including Dubai, of course. I think for any designer that's kind of like putting your stamp on the world. I would also like to see perhaps more than shoes in a collection, adding some other accessories like sunglasses, handbags, jewellery... I think there is a lot of room for us to grow into.
Nicholas Kirkwood's ‘Arcs of Orbit’ installation is open for viewing now at Level Shoe District, Dubai.