Sebastian Errazuriz has no fear of sharing his thoughts and beliefs, whether they're translated through bike lane performance art or other shocking surfaces. To put it plainly, the designer is mighty outspoken—and that's why we always love the work he brings to the table. This time, Errazuriz is back with another series worthy of a double-take: "12 Shoes for 12 Lovers."
Errazuriz is working with shoe brand Melissa (yes, the name behind the jelly slip-ons we all used to love) to create the 3D printed sculptures. The exhibit will be on display December 6th through January 6th at the Melissa pop-up shop in Miami. Each shoe design is accompanied by an anecdote (and a few NSFW personal photos) featuring an ex-girlfriend that unofficially—and pretty harshly, in some instances—describes the relationship between her and the shoe design. Some of the series' highlights so far: "Gold Digger," a beautiful and very expensive looking gold heel; "Ice Queen," a chilling display of icicle heels; and "Cry Baby," a splash of spilled milk turned avant garde footwear.
Digital drawings for "Gold Digger"
Errazuriz shared some to say about the series and some of the responses he got from the featured exes: Core77: This is a pretty personal look at some of the people in your life. Have you gotten any responses from exes who have been featured so far in the series?
Sebastian Errazuriz: I have. "Honey" was very touched and said she didn't know she had that impact on me. "Heart Breaker" wrote me an email to say she didn't know if she should feel incredibly embarrassed, enraged or honored but that if I ever revealed her real name she would kill me. "Gold Digger" hates my guts.
Were you worried about any backlash from your exes or their current boyfriends/husbands when you started out with this project?
Most stories are relatively personal, but still slightly positive. I was also able to get permission to use the photos from many of girls so I knew I was relatively safe. Others, I was a little concerned. There are a couple I just knew would be bad. There's a husband and a boyfriend that could be quite upset, but my stories have no real names and the photos don't show any faces. So if they want to be all macho and exaggerated about it, I'm happy to meet up with them.
You've always traveled the line between art and design with your work. Do you consider this exhibit design or art?
I think the Melissa pop-up considers this an art show. I'm very grateful to have their support and the possibility to show my work there in the integral way I envisioned. I'm nevertheless really not sure if its simply art or design. The shoes are theoretically all functional, but I envisioned them as little sculptures. They are creative exercises that are not tied to requirements of any sort. The shoes have the potential of being mass produced, which is why it was so important for me to work with digital files and 3D printing. Nevertheless—for the moment—they are each unique pieces.
The fact that each shoe is inspired and based on a true personal story makes them much more personal than an average product. The photo and narrative that accompanies them makes them similar to many contemporary art projects. Ultimately, I'm interested in how this particular project potentially ties both disciplines and could easily pass from one to the other.
"Heart Breaker" (left) and "Ice Queen" (right)
You're only halfway through the series, but what kind of response have you gotten for the project so far? What have been the most rewarding aspects?
I've been posting the shoes on Facebook and Instagram and it's been extremely rewarding to get so many personal messages and emails from people who are really into them. I think in our current scenario where we are oversaturated with visual content, it's extremely challenging and satisfying to be able to connect with people who are interested and excited to see the next shoe you. For me, to be able to connect in this era with people for two weeks is already an incredible luxury and proves that it's still possible if you have a few good ideas and hard work to share.
I believe it's also been fun for Melissa to be able to offer these concept shoe-sculptures that continue to re-enforce the playful and daring style that has characterized them before.
You're obviously no stranger to collaboration—how did your latest project come about?
Melissa has always been incredibly avant-garde when it comes to design. It's rare to find a company pioneering in quality plastic shoes through collaborations with designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Vivian Westwood or architects like Zaha Hadid. The people at Melissa are very interested in contemporary design and therefore I had met the directors of Melissa US and Melissa worldwide some time ago. They liked my work and had noticed I was doing these shoe-sculptures. It seemed like a perfect fit to launch the new Melissa pop-up store in Miami during Art Basel with an exhibition of my shoes.
Was working with another brand difficult since you were dealing with such a personal project?
I had been developing these shoes for quite a while. You have to imagine that constructing each model on CAD takes quite some time—printing out each prototype is never as easy as it seems—and then coming up with 12 different, decent ideas worth putting that much energy into required at least 100 bad ideas that I rejected before getting to the final 12. The team at Melissa has fortunately been working with me for a quite a while offering all sorts of support and being extremely patient and respectful of my personal creative process and timelines.
Do you have a favorite shoe so far?
I really love "Cry Baby"—it's so simple yet so different from every shoe I have ever seen before. It was somewhat hard at first to decide to do something so apparently illogical and atypical, yet because of that as we where constructing it the process proved to be much more rewarding. Each extra step seemed to confirm that this odd new shape actually was quite nice and maybe someone would wear it.
You mentioned in a Q&A with us last year, that you still had a long way to go in reaching the stardom that other artists like Damien Hirst have achieved. You also mentioned it being an honor to get to a level of success where you risk losing yourself. With the your successes of the past year and the strong response to "12 Shoes for 12 Lovers" so far, does that piece of mind still ring true to you?
Each year, I feel I have been lucky to grow both in experience and in reputation. This year we moved to a much larger studio, my team of assistants grew bigger and I became represented by a second gallery in NY. But I'm still very, very far from having the prices, platform and support that artists like Koons or Hirst have. I think believing "you've made it" can be bad. The moment you feel you have reached "stardom" you are doomed because you feel satisfied as opposed to hungry. I feel I have much to prove and want to fight to claim the support and space that I believe one day I can earn. I'm still a hungry underdog happy to get into the ring with any of the more established artists and designers and measure up.
It's important to also remember that my personal timeline might be "filled with success" but it's spread over a multiplicity of different disciplines and a philosophy to always place original ideas over aesthetically branded styles. This makes my personal brand construction or "fame" much harder than that of the majority of artists that always do the same thing or always use the same recognizable signature style. I'd rather not be immediately recognizable as a brand. I would rather you see something I made and say, "Hey that's a good idea." Then hopefully you'll check the name underneath and say, "Oh, it's this guy Sebastian with the funny surname. I love his stuff."
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