United Nude, New to Nordstrom.com
Since 2003, Rem D Koolhaas, Dutch architect and shoe engineer of United Nude, has been constructing innovative footwear that pushes technological boundaries and astounds the imagination. The Thread phoned Rem, who at the time was traveling through China, to learn more about his point of view on conceptual shoes.
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THE THREAD: What we love most about United Nude is that you design from a place that has no limits.
REM D KOOLHAAS: Yes, we’re designing footwear to push boundaries, to experiment… Yet as a brand we’ve grown up a lot and offer a broader lifestyle range of shoes. At the same time, we’re doing more wild collaborations, theaterlike footwear, let’s say, with people like British architect Zaha Hadid or Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen. This kind of balance between experimentation and wearability is what really keeps us awake more than anything else.
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THE THREAD: Your theater footwear analogy is quite thought-provoking, especially thinking of some of your designs worn by characters like Lady Gaga.
REM: The good thing about celebrities is that they want to be seen. They are the most open to join the “theater of fashion,” which is basically where people wear something to really show off and make a statement. Most people in their day-to-day life don’t really want to wear things that are too adventurous, but then you have someone like Beyoncé , who recently sent us a request and desires a state-of-the-art shoe. We have continuous requests from the stylist of Lady Gaga to design shoes for her that complement her theatrical way to perform.
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THE THREAD: What are some of the defining design elements that you think make a pair of United Nudes so special?
REM: Well, I was trained as an architect, so by nature I play with graffiti, with conceptual notions, which means to make something appear like it wouldn’t necessarily work, to slightly confuse the eye. I think we design in a very architectural, minimalist way, where we use advanced technological structures and materialization. We are known as an architectural shoe company, where we find ourselves in the intersection between fashion and design.
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THE THREAD: Who would you say are some of the most important architects of today?
REM: In America, Frank Gehry is someone who is extremely influential, I think. There are different types of architects—Norman Foster, Renzo Piano, Richard Meier—they are all quite straightforward architects. Their buildings are maybe less experimental but still impactful. Then you have someone like my uncle, who has the same name as myself, Rem Koolhaas, who built a career on unconventionality.
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THE THREAD: Tell us a little bit about your design strategy?
REM: To look further than your own field, or the normal possibilities for designing, but also taking in consideration how products are constructed, how they’re made and what materials are used. I think that’s what makes us so advanced in design, is this constant hunger for experimentation, not for the sake of experimentation, but really, to solve problems and to be able to create new shapes and new looks.
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Putting on a United Nude shoe is an experience in which architectural concepts meet designs that are built to last.
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Shot on location in Seattle between the Eastlake and Capitol Hill neighborhoods at the I-5 Colonnade mountain bike skills park.