Taking Flyte

Hines College student a “shoe”-in for Global Footwear Awards

by Nicholas Nguyen • January 10, 2024

The fourth annual Global Footwear Awards (GFA) winners included recent University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design industrial design graduate Toluwalase Adedipe (’23). Aiming to recognize professional and student work, the GFA worked with a jury panel including designers from adidas, Nike, and Puma along with experts from the likes of Vogue to select innovative designs and give emerging designers an international platform.

Winning a prestigious award motivates Adedipe to stay inventive and passionate about design.

“Being named a winner is an incredible validation of the hard work and dedication I invested in the project,” he revealed. “I entered the competition as an opportunity to showcase my passion for innovative footwear design. The prospect of competing on a global stage motivated me to push my creative boundaries.”

“I aimed to create a shoe that not only elevated performance but also stood out in terms of design."

above: Adedipe worked on this project for five months; renderings of his winning basketball shoe design, flyte

Inspired by Nature

Adedipe’s hard work culminated in a win in the student category for Sports Performance – Basketball/Football/Rugby with his shoe design, Flyte.

“I aimed to create a shoe that not only elevated performance but also stood out in terms of design. I believe nature has had millions of years of trial and error to find the most efficient way of doing things, so what better teacher to learn from than nature?” he said.

Working on the project for five months, Adedipe started with researching and comparing ecosystems and biomechanics in nature to playing basketball and the court environment. Inspired by the concept of biomimicry, he researched dragonflies, butterflies, and geckos to inform his design choices. For example, the shoe’s graphic vein patterns look like dragonfly wings. The placement and stitching help support the shoe’s shape. By observing how butterfly wings microscopically resembled gyroid structures, he 3D printed a material in a similar pattern to emulate soft foam properties for the sole. Flyte’s outer sole has a pattern resembling the bottom of gecko’s feet, meant to give the shoe superior friction and grip properties.

As Adedipe created prototypes of the shoe, he sharpened existing skills and picked up new ones along the way. Adedipe learned more about the 3D printing process while learning Blender to visualize his designs. He even learned to sew as a part of his creative process.

“The prototyping was fun because I got to play with 3D printing TPU for the midsole and outsole as well as sewing the upper of the shoe with a knit material,” shared Adedipe. “I also experimented with silicone for the outer sole."

above: Images from Adedipe's presentation graphics showing how he constructed the prototype through a variety of methods he learned through the spring 2023 semester

Embracing Research and Mentorship

Adedipe completed the project in a studio led by industrial design co-director Jeff Feng and associate instructional professor Adam Wells. He credits them as mentors, with Feng being a big assist on the research angle and Wells helping him refine and tie together all his inspirations and aesthetic ideas.

“Toluwalase’s project is a fine example demonstrating the industrial design students’ high creativity through a research-driven process,” shared Feng. “His relentless pursuit through experimentation with his outstanding design skills is essential for high-quality innovation and design.”

Adedipe’s explorations also included a visit to Detroit where he visited the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design. He encourages students who are interested in footwear design to make the journey to the HBCU to learn from industry leaders and immerse themselves in the world of footwear design.

“Network with professionals, seek mentorship, and do not be afraid to take risks. Every design, whether successful or not, contributes to your growth as a designer,” Adedipe advised students who wish to follow in his footsteps. “Stay curious and embrace challenges.”


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