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Small Designs Magazine

Small Designs Magazine

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Kobi Levi Shoes - From imagination to reality

Creative and innovative shoe styles, ingenious ideas picked from the every-day life changed with a lot of hard work into wearable shoes. The models are unique, fun and meticulously created to be worn by women who want to stand out from the crowd. Kobi Levi challenges the standard definitions of design, art and fashion and begun creating a niche of his own.

These footwear art creations were uploaded to a blog Kobi started in April 2010. Soon, reactions streamed in from all over the world. This over-night exposure brought Lady Gaga to use the design Double Boot in her "Born this Way" music video.
Who is Kobi Levi?
I grew up in Tel-Aviv, and was always fascinated with Art & Design. I had a certain curiosity about how things look, or can look, and also how they are created, both conceptually as well as technically. I wanted to know how to make things myself and I started to study art in 4th grade, all the way to high school and later collage.

How did you and foot wear design meet?
Shoes caught my attention since I can remember, I saw them as wearable sculptures. The forms and shapes of different shoes were very interesting to me, how they were created, how they look and how they affect the body silhouette and movement. During my art studies in high school, shoes "found their way" into my creations more and more, and I decided to focus on footwear design in my collage design studies. I decided I want to create wearable art, treat the shoes as art pieces and also make them real and wearable.

Is there someone artistic in your family? 
Yes, my grandfather was an artist, a painter, and worked as a graphic designer- he was a very special, interesting and unique person to me and to everyone in our family. My mom is also very creative and got a great aethetic sense and attention to details. She didn't pursue this professionally, but I remember her making me and my brother costumes as kids, she was making everything from zero, and perfectly true to the image she and us wanted to achieve. It was made so well, I still remember people's reactions, they thought the characters came to life!

What are your studies? 
Art studies during school, and design studies in collage. I also followed a lot of old-school shoe makers while they work, to learn on my own how to make the product myself. I wanted to know all the process to be able to realize my own ideas to the real complete pair.

Kobi Levi's first shoe designs were created during his high school days. They were made from cardboard back then. Following his passion, in 2001 he graduated from Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design, Jerusalem.

Where does your idea in creating such interesting products come from? 
It was very intuitive. I wanted to use inspirations in a new way, and let the image re-define the product, and create a new design/art piece. My designs show people what I see, they see the images they know, but through my eyes and point of view.

Who or what inspires you in making these products? 
Inspirations come from everywhere and everything: animals, objects, people, places, situations. from life around us. I like to take inspirations that are familiar but we don't necessarily notice it, but when shown in a different context become a whole new thing. Or choose a more familiar image and design it in a new and surprising way. A sense of humor is always important, I enjoy the creation process and like to reflect it in the complete design.

What does it take to make one product?
It is a long and demanding process, the first pair can take a whole month! A new idea can just "pop-up" in my head, or I can choose a theme and design with related images. After thinking about the idea and deciding to start to make it, I begin with 2D sketches. I sketch the design from different angles to get a first impression, if I like the overall look I continue to the 3D model. I need to choose lasts, then choose suitable material to make the heels structure, continue to create first pattern cut and make a first test.
If it looks good and show the idea as I want, I choose materials (leather, textiles, plastics- what will show the idea the best) and proceed to make the first final and complete pair. Anything can happened during the way, modification and changes, until the desirable look is achieved. When the idea become reality it is the most amazing feeling, fantasy comes to life.

Please tell me the story behind the baseball shoes. How did you come with the idea? How did you create them? 
The development process is similar to the description above. The idea started with the heel/bat shape and the whole design followed it. The bat has a very simple, yet recognizable shape- and I wanted to simply place it as a high heel. The baseball is visually defined by the familiar red stitches, and they create the upper pattern. I've designed 2 styles, one that the baseball glove inspired the upper heel counter, and in the other style, a blue baseball cap shape creates the front part of the upper.

Worldwide attention and publications led to a growing demand for Kobi's artistic styles. In July 2011 Kobi opened his studio in Tel Aviv and started to offer his original designs for sale.

What are people's reaction so far? Is it how you expected to be?
It is much more than expected! For years I've been creating these footwear creations and no one saw it except family and friends, after creating a simple blog page with only images, the exposure was unbelievable. I started to get a lot of messages from all over the world from publications, stylists and people that wanted to order, it never stopped since. I'm so happy and grateful that because of this I've opened my studio and offer my designs to order.

Is there a piece that attracts people more? 
Different people like different pieces more than others. It is also depends if the person see the shoe more worn or more on display. The "Chewing gum" shoe design get a lot of reactions, as well as "Miao" and Swan.

What other projects do you have for the future?
More artistic footwear designs, I simply cannot stop. When I have an idea I can't rest until it is "born". I also work on another small line that I hope will be more available to buy, a combination of my artistic design approach and a fashionable wearable look.

See more Kobi Levi shoes here

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