Making it Hyperlocal: The Story of a (Partially) Homemade Pair of Slippers
When Gaspard Tine-Beres was a design student at the Royal College of Art in London, he had an assignment to make a truly local product: something not only made near the designer, but consumed locally too. He thought about what he needed himself, and since he happened to be living with friends in a poorly-heated house in the dead of winter, he was inspired to create a warm (and sustainable pair) of slippers. In London, it was easy to find local manufacturers who used leather. When Tine-Beres later moved to Paris, he wanted to keep the project local, and found a manufacturer using leather and wool felt in his own neighborhood.
Why make something locally? Besides supporting a local economy and minimizing shipping, it's also just very practical for a designer; Tine-Beres is able to visit the factory anytime, and can easily check on any production issues in person. The particular factory he chose also helps give job opportunities to people with special needs.
The slippers are cleverly made from a single piece of wool felt, with leather soles. They're shipped flat (so now, even though Tine-Beres and his partner Ruben Valensi will be shipping to locations outside France, the impact of that shipping will still stay minimal). When the slippers arrive, the new owner laces them up and finishes the production of the shoe themselves.
The last step makes the product ultra-local, since, after all, it happens in owner's own home. For Tine-Beres, it was an important part of the design. By involving the owner in the assembly process, it creates a closer relationship with the product. Each pair of slippers will be slightly unique, based on the person who owns them. Check out the project on Kickstarter.
Images courtesy of Gaspard Tine-Beres and Ruben Valensi.