WOWdesign: Marloes ten Bhömer

ORGANIZER  Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavilion, University of Illinois, Champaign

DATES  January 30 – May 31, 2009

DESCRIPTION  We are presently in an environment that is hyper-conscious of design. Target brings major high-brow fashion labels to the masses, IKEA makes the dream kitchen a reality for anyone, cable television is overrun with design how-to’s, and the local newsstands are spilling over with specialty design periodicals. This phenomenon makes it even harder for truly inspired and innovative designers’ work to stand out, to WOW us. This exhibition sought out that WOW factor. This designer has an incredible product, a transparent process of design, and is inspired by everyday visual icons while pushing the quintessential to uncharted territory. The work occupies a fascinating zone between design and art, beyond the functional, and rooted in the conceptual.

Dutch designer Marloes ten Bhömer reimagines the shoe, re-conceiving this everyday functional object into wearable sculpture. The ancient art of origami is hinted at in each of ten Bhömer’s designs, whether the folding happens in the design process or after they have been walked in. She makes use of the 3-D design program Rhinoceros, and takes on unexpected materials like Tyvek, carbon fiber and the stretchable foam Crepla. After creating a rapid prototype in a rubber material, she uses a CNC milling machine to transform a block of leather into a shoe. She has even invented a leather maché process that enables her to build a functional shoe without any trace of stitching or conventional shoemaking.

The exhibition included actual shoes as well as working drawings, rapid rubber prototypes, foam and carved prototypes, and other relevant supporting material.

CATALOGUE  An illustrated brochure accompanied the exhibition, with an essay by the curators, Ginger Gregg Duggan and Judith Hoos Fox, as well as musings by design professionals and scholars, Ed van Hinte, Linda M. Scott and David I. Weightman.