For a whole month, Wildling fans were swinging their pens or sliding their mice to get their own Wildling shoe design down on paper. Then came another month, during which we first selected a top twenty out of all the wonderfully wild, colourful and imaginative entries, and then - with the help of a jury of experts, Wildling customers, the Wildling team and a children’s jury - chose the winning design. And now we can reveal the winner... It’s I-Wild! The exciting “smart textile” idea for the material is already making a lot of people curious.
But who's behind the design?
Anja Haltermann is a graphic and web designer, based in a village between Hamburg and Bremen. She has two children for whom she moved from Hamburg into the countryside. It’s still not far to the city, and in the evenings she enjoys the peace and the natural surroundings. Anja is a passionate trombonist, playing in a film orchestra and a trombone ensemble. She loves the rehearsals and concerts: “One or two hours in which you completely clear your head, concentrating on only one thing and immersing yourself in the music - it provides a nice balance to work and daily life.”
Half-Italian, Anja spends nearly every summer in Calabria. Her father comes from a small mountain village in the middle of Italy’s boot heel. “Sun, good wine and simple Italian food are pleasures that I need in order to refuel with energy after a cold, rainy German winter”.
She discovered Wildling online, after diving into the world of barefoot shoes yet not really finding her ideal model. What she likes about Wildlings are the shape and design, and that they don't look like orthopaedic shoes. “Everywhere you go people ask about the shoes; even in the train to Berlin someone recently asked me if I was wearing Wildlings! I can't and don’t want to wear normal shoes anymore. Of course there are sometimes meetings or seminars where I wear shoes with a heel, but I find it annoying and I get in a really bad mood when my feet hurt; then I can't really think properly anymore.
Anja and her daughter (Foto: private)
What’s the idea behind the design?
I found out a lot about the Wildling brand and found it interesting that so much is taken from nature: the names of the individual shoes, and I even read that the sole of the shoe is based on a fox’s paw! And that's how I got the idea that the material, too, should have a special feature based on nature.”
Anja wanted to invent a material that would counteract warm feet. During her research she soon found that there’s a Swiss company doing just that, working on a textile that, like fir cones and certain types of leaf, is self-cleaning, resistant to water and dirt, and also robust. However, it’s is still in the early stages of development. “I don't think it's possible yet, but in the competition description it did say that we were allowed to dream and be creative!” But if such a material can only be produced using plastics, then she’d rather do without - “You have to get your priorities right!”
Inspired by plant cells
The pattern, too, took its inspiration from nature: “I find pictures taken through a microscope interesting, and I based my design on the image of a cell. I would have preferred an animal cell, perhaps from a wolf, fox or my favourite animal, the octopus, but it’s probably a plant cell.”
“Dancing joyfully around the office”
When she found out about her win she was at work. “First of all I just sat there and thought: ‘I can’t believe it! I’ve really won?’” She tells us that because she’d really liked so many of the other designs, she was quite simply overwhelmed. “I jumped around the office, doing a dance because I was so thrilled. And then I phoned my husband.”
“I've never held my own design in my hands”
“I received an email that said there’s a trip to Portugal in my future! I assume that the shoe will be produced there - that’s very exciting of course. I’d love to be able to see more behind the scenes at Wildling and get to know the people behind the idea. Wildlings are really something special for me. Of course I’m a designer myself, but I've never held my own design in my hands before - so if there were really to be a limited edition of my design, that would be fantastic! But I can't really imagine it just yet.”
Thank you Anja for the interview! We’re already looking forward to the next steps with you and your design - all the way through to your shoe moving in with us, when you can finally hold it in your hands. Run wild!
Anna, Ran and Team Wildling