Shoes that obey the principles of architecture, engineering, intricate design and the most delicate woodworking. Rachel Jui Chi Chang’s hands were made to create.
This Taiwanese designer living in London knows how to do things well. Her collection, Footspace, has already made waves in renowned exhibitions including the latest and her most important MOBA FETISHISM IN FASHION ELEVATION, where her shoes were shown next to such greats as Marloes ten Böhmer and Salvatore Ferragamo. She’s also the recipient of the British Footwear Association Footwear Prize and has been nominated for the Conrad Award.
Something is changing in the art world and more and more artists are being drawn to fashion to express themselves. We’re excited to see the concept of slow fashion coming into its own, and to see that fashion can be art when it’s in the right hands.
SO CATCHY!: You very clearly an artist, why did you decide to use footwear to express yourself?
RACHEL JUI CHI CHANG: I have always liked 3D design work; I like seeing how things works and how the structures form. I also like how 2D works as well, making shoes is like combining the 2D and 3D works together. You can design the shoe both in 2D and 3D then cut the pattern flatten it in 2D, after, you apply the 2D pattern onto the shoes and it becomes 3D.
SC!: Do you see yourself more as a footwear designer or a trendsetter?
RJ: I see myself as a designer who is a specialist in innovative footwear.
SC!: Tell us about Footspace
RJ: Footspace is my graduate collection from the Royal College of Art London. Inspired by furniture design and manufacturing processes in the 50s. When craft meets technology such as Emase.
SC!: You exhibited your shoes at MOBA FETISHIM IN FASHION ELEVATION. Other participants included Marloes ten Böhmer, Salvatore Ferragamo, Jean Paul Gaultier… How did you feel there?
RJ: The exhibition was amazing! Thanks to Marijke Bruggink, the curator of ELEVATION MOBA. It was such a pleasure to exhibit with all my dream designers and dream shoes! I was like a little kid, very excited and closely looking at all the masterpieces in the show. It is still like a dream that my shoes were surrounded by all the famous / well-known designer’s shoes!
The people I met in Arnhem are super nice and kind, I really like the small friendly town, you can feel there is a great creative energy there.
SC! Tells us about the process that you follow when creating a show…
RJ: The shapes and lines of the collection are inspired by skeletal structures of human bone as well as architectural space frames. After analysing the construction of chairs, I used CAD software to design the range with an architect before working with craftsmen to make the maple wood and metal designs.
The collection construction is integral to the design and uses the principles of the slotting system found in furniture and engineering.
SC! What do you want to do now?
RJ: I wish I could have my own brand in the very near future but at the same time I love learning and exploring, I may end up traveling around the world! I want to be a happy person who is happy making her stuff and selling her design pieces.
SC!: Your favorite Footwear Designer is….
RJ: I don’t have a specific favorite one. I only see the design.
SC!: What do you read (fashion magazines, blogs, books) or what do you do to find inspiration?
RJ: I don’t just focus on fashion blogs or magazines, I also go and see design blogs and I love going to the interior design or furniture shops as well. My inspiration often comes from the theory of the design; I like knowing the story and thoughts behind the object.
My inspirations mainly come from the human body and everyday objects. I love architecture and furniture design, you can see them around your life!! The frame of the architecture and furniture is just like the human bone structure. The foot supports the whole body, footwear is like the foundation of the house.
SC!: What is your “impossible dream”?
RJ: To be a singer
SC!: Where do you see the future of Footwear Design?
RJ: I can see bespoke design shoes will become popular soon.
Photos by Iris Long
Translated by Michael Padilla