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Nominated for the German Design Award – ‘Form follows function’ or how Wildlings got their looks

We had the most amazing surprise land in our mailbox the other day – a nomination for the German Design Award, conferred by the German Design Council.

Our shoes violate many unwritten rules about how a shoe should look and be, so to have been nominated for this award is a truly special honour for us.

‘Form follows function’ – something that always was and always will be especially close to our hearts.

Wildlings follow the shape of the foot rather than the expectations of fashionistas. But, luckily, this popular trend of a narrow, tapered front shoe section is now starting to be smashed.

And even though we’ve been getting enthusiastic reactions from all over the world saying our shoes look better than any other minimal shoe, we just thought we were a little bit biased.

Which explains why this nomination for ‘Excellent Product Design’ in the Lifestyle & Fashion category means so much. So, we would like to take this opportunity to show a few photos documenting the evolution of Wildlings and also introduce the person responsible for the collection’s design – Sabine.

Orthopaedic shoemaker and designer: Sabine is the one who makes our Wildlings look good

A trained orthopaedic shoemaker herself, Sabine studied product design and has worked for several major shoe manufacturers. At some point, she developed foot problems and thought ‘I can’t work for conventional shoe brands with a clear conscience anymore. Everything I know about feet and shoes is wrong.’

Sabine (left) and Kristin

Together with a friend, she wanted to design a shoe that would meet her needs and give her feet more space. But because her friend had too much respect for independence, nothing became of her own company.

Shortly afterwards, the same friend sent her a link to the crowdfunding page Wildling was using to finance its first shoes. ‘I was both jealous and excited at the same time! I wrote to Anna and Ran telling them how great I thought the idea was and said something a bit cheesy like: ‘Be good at it, then I don’t have to do it’! But Anna wrote back straightaway asking if I was familiar with shoe design and because I was, we set up a meeting. This is how we started working together; first, I worked as a freelancer for Wildling, now I am employed part-time.’

A pioneer feeling: The first Wildlings and how they became what they are

Anne and Ran produced the very first sketches on paper at home. Drawing a three-dimensional object like a shoe on paper is an art in itself.

Shoes are incredibly complex and most of them are made up of an incredible number of individual parts. Wildlings, on the other hand, are quite minimalistic, but this still required a lot of creativity and trial and error in devising the pattern.

First drafts from Anna

It was an Italian shoe designer living in Mexico who developed the design. A flurry of e-mails went back-and-forth until Anna and Ran finally felt that the idea had been put down on paper properly. The shoe last was developed with a German last maker who used the foot of Anna and Ran’s eldest daughter as a model. Ran flew to Portugal with the design and shoe last blueprints to try and find a manufacturer who would work with us on the prototype. A genuine pioneer feeling sprang up.

This was when Sabine’s work began:

‘At first, we were busy creating a uniform design for the Wildlings, seemingly trivial things like: where does the seam between the microfibre and the outer fabric run, where should the tongue go at the back and how big is it? So that individual Wildlings won’t look different from the others.’

Sabine was involved in developing the smallest Wildlings, the Cubs, where the sole had to be adapted to the tiny sizes. ‘I enjoy choosing the materials and colours most. It’s quite a challenge because you have to think about so many different aspects of it: fashion trends and that some people like wearing shades of brown, others prefer cool colours. The shoes also need to go with what you already have in your wardrobe, while other people want to make a big, bold, colourful statement with their shoes. Most conventional shoes are black, followed by a much smaller number in brown. Only a teeny-tiny portion are coloured. This is also what I like about Wildling, they share the courage and enthusiasm for colours that our customers have.’

A small excerpt from the first milestones of development:

We trawled through our photo archives and have picked out some gems from the design development.


Adjusting the last

Sabine developed the special Design of the Flora (you can read about it here) and works closely together with Kristin in our studio

Run wild! Anna, Ran & Team Wildling


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