Lee Jinyoung from i-Clue Design has developed a smart do it yourself system that lets users create their own shoes. Called the Klem project, it was formed to address the widespread need in Malawi, Africa for individuals who need the most basic of items – shoes. The designer was driven by an awareness of communities that live on a daily basis without these necessities.
Reportedly, in many parts of Malawi aid can be responsible for as much as 40% of a family’s overall living expenses, so the extreme poverty level does not allow many to afford shoes. Going shoeless everyday can increase susceptibility to infection and disease, and exposure to the elements and unsanitary conditions can make heighten the vulnerability. If medical attention isn’t received, other issues can also develop.
Children are especially at risk, and not wearing shoes under these conditions can even irreversibly harm the feet, setting them up for a lifetime of podiatric issues.
Klem shoes are made with fabric and portions of recycled tires. The template for the shoe doesn’t require a lot of material, and they are designed to fit snugly around the feet. The shoes are not complicated to make after some practice, and any textile, fabric scraps or available resource can be utilized to form them.
Practical research went into getting the open design concept up and running, which included a market study in the area to understand what would be most beneficial for local inhabitants in terms of materials, production and continued development. Open design initiatives set people up with information and local resources in order to facilitate a need, and sustainable business models like Jinyoung’s can create a system that allows independence and frees communities from being tethered or reliant on others.
Assessing a real world need and then addressing it with a smart design is so much more than just developing a product.
The Klem design project can be seen on designboom.
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