Together with the EPFL+ECAL Lab in Switzerland, designer Paul Cocksedge is exploring a new pressurised process that can transform any softwood into a material as strong and durable as hardwood. Proof, above, a conventional heel (sans steel rod) strong enough to support the weight of a human body.
(Click the images below for full sized images)
The process involves metal moulds, steam and heat, and any softwood such as cedar, spruce or pine, pressurised to become as dense, strong and durable as hardwood.
"Studying the process at a microstructural level, Paul realised that the patterns created in the wood grain bore a remarkable resemblance to snake-skin. The idea was born to create a high-heeled shoe - but with a difference..." says Paul Cocksedge Studio.
The shoe's upper reflects the new materials' composition, created by reproducing the snake-skin pattern found under the microscope. "The result is a unique fusion of fashion and engineering, of classic design and new thinking."
Instead of a conventional heel, made from plastic or wood that has to be reinforced by a steel rod, the Pressure Point Shoe Heel is created from nothing other than pressurized softwood, strong enough to support the weight of a human body.
"This is a project that fascinated me in so many ways," Paul Cocksedge says. "It's not just the environmental benefits of being able to transform sustainable, fast-growing softwood into hardwood, but the range of uses it has, it's basically limitless. I'm really proud to have been part of the inception of this new technology."
Pressure Point was shown as part of Under Pressure, an EPFL+ECAL Lab project which commissioned designers to show the potential of this material. Under Pressure was exhibited as part of the Wallpaper* 2013 Handmade exhibition during Milan Salone del Mobile.
Photos: Mark Cocksedge.