crumb rubber shoes

The brief for this project was to experiment with materials that have a very low economical and perceived value with the goal of modifying it and rendering it more attractive. Once we obtained a promising result the challenge  was to make an object that would be aesthetically desirable to further change the negative perception we have of the original material.

I chose old car tyres, I managed to get my hands on some crumb rubber which is essentially ground up tyres. This is the cheapest and most common way of recycling tyres as it it virtually impossible to revert the vulcanisation process. The International Recycling Association estimates that in the world around 450 million tyres are thrown away per year, out of these, 50% en up in landfills and dumps, 40% are incinerated, ad only 10% are recycled.

A vulcanised tyre consists of rubber and sulfur which is laid on a matrix of polyester and rims of metal wire. To recycle them, these are passed through a grinder in order to separate the rubber from the rest of the materials. The result is crumb rubber, and its mainly used are for paving running tracks and children’s playgrounds because of its traction and shock absorption qualities.

tyre compositionThe experiments lead to recreate the tyre into a flat tissue, by creating an agglomerate of the crumb rubber between two layers of cloth using silicone. The result was a waterproof cloth that has the tactile qualities of textile, with the resilience of the rubber.

experimentation

For centuries shoes have been perceived as objects of desire even inciting fetishistic obsessions, making them an ideal object to challenge the very negative perception we have about old abandoned tyres. The following are some sketch drawings and 3d sketch models that lead to the final pairs.

sketches

sketch models

The final outcome are two models, one for casual ware and more sportive version. Both pairs are made out of 95% recycled crumb rubber from scrap tyres.

crumb rubber shoe

out of the box

fitting the shoe

elastic strap

street model

sport model

sport

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