Interview to Nunu Solsona
In fashion today sophisticated technologies allows even the least expensive clothes to have a certain look about them, reflecting the most current trends. Nothing can resist the march of democratization. Nonetheless there is one product that remains on the margins of this process, one that is difficult to imitate: the shoe. Object of desire, essential to complete any look or define ones personal image … Here below we introduce Nunu Solsona founder of Deux Souliers one of the most original designer shoe creators of the moment. This is her project.
Why shoes? What are you trying to get at with footwear?
From the very first time that I walked through the doors of a shoe workshop I felt something that I had never felt before, something hard to describe … Before then I had trained in fashion but nothing came close to moving me like that feeling of looking at the world of shoes. That sensation of thinking that my hands had been waiting for this for a long time. And what finally convinced me to start DS was the need and ambition to start my own project. Without doubt it’s the right approach in order to understand and learn about everything involved in the process of creating a shoe label.
I think that the current economic climate has changed people’s way of shopping, we aim to provide a responsible alternative offering products that will last by adapting the classics, making them more contemporary and using quality materials that are not over priced, applying craft techniques and methodologies designed to last. Part of our philosophy is connected to energizing the footwear industry in Spain and following the tradition of Barcelona design.
How do you work? Is it more intellectual or hands-on working with forms, materials and colour in the workshop, which by the way is really beautiful?
Thanks, we are really happy with our new work place. The truth is that it’s a real luxury in a creative sense to have so much space to work. My day to day is quite intense it all depends on the particular phase of the current campaign that we are working on. The creative and design phases overlap with the closing stages of the previous campaign, so there is always an intense mixture of things going on and one has to be very organised and disciplined. I enjoy the design stage a lot, to start off with we make a selection of materials and produce the shoe lasts that are used to draw the shoes, then we move onto the process of ‘moulage’ but using the shoe last which is by then the definitive form that the shoe will take. Tests are made using the materials, the seams and a prototype resembling the final result as closely as possible so that the factory can use it as a reference.
Historically Catalan industrial designers were concerned with the atemporal in relation to their designs. Is this also a concern for you?
It wouldn’t really make sense to talk about classic and basic products which become redundant the following season. The concept is also connected with the ambition to change patterns of consumption.
To me it appears that there is almost a Scandinavian sensibility in your work. I think that good design in Barcelona feels very connected with Northern Europe, there is a scepticism regarding anything that is banal or ancillary and in the case of women’s wear anything too extreme or sexual. Do you agree?
Depending from which point of view you take. Going to international fairs has allowed us to see things from different angles …For a Finn our work might appear very warm and say for an Italian much cooler. To be honest I consider myself very Mediterranean we work in a sober manner not perhaps very Nordic but with great attention to detailing. Our designs are for a cosmopolitan woman who can wear our ‘Wedges’ or ‘Oxfords’ everyday combined with jeans or military trousers as well as for more special occasions with a softer look. For us the sexual and the extreme are not necessarily at odds with very clean lines.
What is the best and worst part of the complex work you do? The technical and commercial aspects can at times be very hard, more so if the designer is young, they can be frustrating. How do you manage?
I wouldn’t say it was frustrating so much as motivating, each day is filled with challenges …. Not so much because of being a young designer but because there has been no overall structure or major starting capital, everything is achieved through hard work and constant effort. So other needs come up and you learn about other aspects that go beyond just designing shoes, from contractual issues, margins, percentages, information technology, quality control, relations with agents, clients that you meet at fairs, with suppliers … That in no way holds me back but I would say it helps and enriches the work and I think makes me a more complete designer. The best part is that we are reaching more customers in new continents and the positive reception to our work which we do with love and humility from our studio in Barcelona. All this helps to get over every challenge or difficulty along the way.
You have incorporated some removable elements, two designs in one? Do they sell well, I mean does the public get it?
Yes, I would say that customers have reacted well, in the Asian market for example they value it highly. The Oxford with the removable spats is one of our best selling models and is already part of our classic collection that we repeat with every season with some variations on colour and materials requested by our clients. The versatile nature allows us experiment with colour and materials of the pieces we create, it’s another incentive to choose our product.
Your project includes different creative collaborative input to the brand image : Studio Folch, the photographer Esperanza Moya, the artist Iñaki Alvarez … Do you let them bring their own thinking to the product or do you have a clear idea what they should do?
Yes we really like creating work synergies and especially when it comes to influential professionals. Although we have a clear idea of the brand’s concept it’s always interesting to hear different points of view to enrich the work and achieve better results. Take for instance these great photos, publicity shots of the SS 2012 created for our lookbook with Marçal Vaquer who is the art director of his own studio: http://www.marssal.net/ and works in product photography in Barcelona.
Your shoes have also appeared on the catwalk for some designers, is fashion and trend setting important for you? What are your references?
We have provided shoes for several fashion shows to lend them an interesting look … and in order to reach a new wider public. For a brand of accessories it’s always more difficult to reach the specialised press, catwalk shows for accessories don’t exist. The trade fairs where we participate are aimed at the professional sector, more to do with retail sales. On the other hand we are fascinated with designers with personality, trends may come and go but they maintain their identity, I think that’s the thing that really seduces me but don’t ask me to mention one specific choice. Of course we love fashion that’s why we are in the business but we aren’t obsessed about it.
Are you interested in men’s footwear?
More than anything else right now I’m interested in the unisex concept. In fact the ‘boot#1’ is a model we produce starting from size 36 through to size 45. For the next edition we have new models designed for both sexes. So the intention is that DS will incorporate a more and more homogenous approach for certain shoe models. On the other hand we haven’t turned our backs on femininity and are developing shoes for all the special moments of a woman’s life, in all heel heights!
It seems like a logical step if things continue to go well that you work on other types of product; bags, leather goods, and even clothes. Is that the future intention?
It seems that everything is going so fast, with just a single Parisian trade fair we managed to reach several new continents with DS and we are going to do everything possible to make sure that continues. We would love to work with all aspects of leather and other products. Being cautious we have already started to expand the collections. But we can confirm that our clients have asked us to look at bags and other small leather goods articles so we will have to listen to them and maybe even act on that demand.