Architects Turned Bespoke Shoemakers: Aldanondoyfdez
Giving a contemporary twist to the centuries-old craft of shoemaking, Aldanondoyfdez shows off their handmade shoes on custom furniture by design studio Plutarco
Two architects turned shoemakers and two architects turned to multidisciplinary designers came together at Madrid Design Festival to present and celebrate contemporary craftsmanship in the exhibition Kraf(T)mxn. In the exhibition, the designers Ana Arana and Enrique Ventosa of Plutarco opened the exhibition space ‘Experimento‘ that is part of their office and build custom designed furniture to display the work and tools of Aldanondoyfdez — a luxury fashion brand specializing in 100% handcrafted shoes by Ignacio Aldanondo and Catuxa Fernández.
While it seems like a large leap from architects to become artisan shoemakers, Catuxa Fernández tells TLmag that for them it was not such a strange shift. She describes the process of how this change came about: “We are very lucky to live in Barcelona where there are two master craftsmen who are very old but were still teaching this ancient trade in the same ways that it has been taught for hundreds of years. We began shoemaking as a hobby, sharing that with our work as architects but then we decided we had to chose one because both architecture and shoemaking are very demanding on your time, and when you begin something new you have to put all your heart into that and many hours of work. So we stopped accepting architecture work and the change was quite natural. We always say that the two ways of working are not very different, we love to use our hands, making models in architecture and in making shoes. In both there are similarities in the use of materials, the structures and the construction. The main difference is that shoes are just smaller in scale.”
With each pair of shoes taking between 50 and 100 hours to make, the care that the duo takes is in direct contrast to industrial shoe manufacturing that dominates the footwear market. Catuxa explains that they feel a large “responsibility with nature and with the people involved with the process. While Industrial shoe making tries to follow the trends, we respond to the opposite way of consuming and producing.” Their shoes are produced on order to ensure no wastage and get better with time and the materials aging countering the obsolescence in fast-fashion.
This slow-design attitude also influences the aesthetics of the shoes. “The designs are the consequence of trying to make the shoes explain how they are built” says Catuxa. “Because we make every part of the shoe, we can make decisions whilst creating them because you are thinking while sculpting. Each shoe, even it is a model that we have in our website, is different from the previous one.”
Similarly, the furniture that Plutarco made for the exhibition reflects a consideration of bespoke needs. For example, the steel chair is lower than a usual chair to cater to the height a shoemaker works at but can also be flipped over to be used at a normal height. For this collection, aligning with the philosophy of Aldanondoyfdez, they kept the materials untreated to “show how things are made, making the process visible and showing the layers”.
Through making the slow and careful process of shoemaking visible, the exhibition celebrates design that steps away from the speed of industry that dominates our lives and revels in taking time in creating.
Cover image:Catuxa Fernánde and Ignacio Aldanondo of Aldanondoyfdez