What Are Shoes Really For? 7 Designers That Will Make You Think Twice

“Sometimes life is difficult to understand”

The first time we stumbled across Peter Popps’ website, we had to check twice that it was a shoe designer’s site and not something darker and perhaps even bondage-related (!) – such was the artistic impact of the home page.

Peter Popps website

If there is one designer that pushed us into the question behind this article – “What are shoes for?”, it’s Peter Popps.

As we got to know his work, and did our best to understand the mind of such creative force, we found ourselves appreciating it in the way we enjoy art.  If we looked at anything as prosaic as function, practicality or comfort, it stopped working or even having meaning.  But in pure aesthetic terms, we were blown away.

As well as the breath-taking visual impact, we found Peter’s quotes and descriptions important to consider – in the same way that the “artist’s statement” can be such a key part of appreciating a piece of art.  Having said that, you may be interested to look out for a future article on artist’s statements, where we will be attempting to explore how much of this is about hype, and whether there’s an element of the Emperor’s New Clothes about the mechanism.

But in Peter’s case, we firmly believe the descriptions are fundamental to understanding what on earth is going on in the mind of someone who creates such works of art, and then asks us to call them shoes.  They also include quotes from others which trigger a design response from Peter, in particular legendary fashion icon Diane Vreeland, .

A few of the words that stayed with us, and the associated creations:

The Sphere

Unshined shoes are the end of civilization

The RiNG

Give ’em what they never knew they wanted

Peter Popps Ring


new shoe doesn’t get you anywhere, it’s the life you’re living in the shoe

Peter Popps Cone


Perhaps the quote that says most about what Peter’s work means to us:

. . . the urge to design opposed to the mainstream cultural values as they are forced on us today

Peter Popps Circle and Oval