GET YOUR CRAFT ON
(CNN) -- To see the Kobi Levi's "shoe creatures" might make you wonder how it's possible to teeter on high heels inspired by chewing gum, chopsticks or toucans. But the Israeli designer says they're intended to be worn -- just ask Lady Gaga, who wore a pair of his shoes in her video, "Born this Way."
Levi says he's not necessarily out to make money off his whimsical creations. He has a job designing and developing a line of women's fashion shoes in collaboration with an Israeli shoe store chain. For him, the shoe is just a canvas for creating something unexpectedly beautiful.
CNN: First things first: Are the shoes wearable?
Kobi Levi: They're always real shoes; it's never supposed to be just a toy. I make each pair one by one, and they're strong; technically, it can function like any other high-heeled shoe. It just looks kind of more crazy than usual so people sometimes cannot believe that it is wearable. Technically, it's wearable if somebody's brave enough to actually put themselves in them.
Production is another story. With a commercial shoe, when you make something more creative that's pushing the limits, on the factory side they don't care how it looks. They want to produce, they want to make more and more of a quantity; it's a business.
As a designer, I don't mind if it's not going to be a big quantity, I just want it to be the best, no matter if it's one pair, two pair or million pairs. It's really a big effort to get the right shape and usually, in production, they don't care... So for now, I make every little thing by hand. I make the first one, so nobody can tell me it's impossible, it's too crazy -- there it is! It's real; it's on the table, all the development is done... The thing is about art mainly, more than just to duplicate and sell in mass production, which I'm not objecting to; I just want to make it the right way, first.
Levi: It is more challenging! A shoe is a very complicated object to design, it involves a lot of mini architecture: materials, techniques, tooling. All the shoe parts -- upper, insole, heel, sole -- need to be created perfectly together to give the whole picture. The end result is a real fantasy sculpture that can have another life when is worn, and not only on display. My "shoe creatures" have another appeal when you see them on the feet.
CNN: What goes into making each pair?
Levi: Each new design can take about a month. Each one is its own experience but it starts with an idea. I sketch it from different angles to see first in a two-dimension drawing how it looks.
If it looks good I continue through to three-dimensional. I need to create all the tooling myself, make the heels by hand, the insoles, all the inner structure with metal pieces to hold the curve in the right position. If it needs a platform, I carve it by hand from cork, foam rubber or other material. For the upper part I make the pattern cuts, test materials, and then cut it from chosen materials to create the first pair.
Basically, any first pair is like the first real sketch, the model. When you make it next time it's gonna take less time and be much better because you know the most difficult points or what can go wrong, so you can make it again. Usually, for a new design, I make just one or two pairs. Basically this is the process for now.
Levi: Well, everywhere, literally! An idea can just pop up and I decide to explore it, or I can choose a theme/concept and design with related images. I can work with an iconic image of an animal or character, or "freeze" a situation (like "Chewing gum"), or play with the foot/shoe shapes themselves (like "Double boots" or "Mother&Daughter"). Or, totally another thing: choose a surprising inspiration, or choose an obvious, predictable one but design it in a different way than expected.
Continue reading the interview here: CNN!