Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Jean Nouvel’s most recent project is--surprisingly--a line of leather sneakers, for Italian Ruco Line.

The shoes were designed to represent the most pure archetype of a shoe possible. Hence, the name Pure collection.

The sneaker-boots are about as minimal as a pair of leather shoes can get.

The white pair especially call to mind a certain Dr. Evil aesthetic.

The singular design detail on the boots is a text stamp on the shoe’s upper, bearing the serial ID number and shoe color and style. "It represents a refusal of standardization," Nouvel says.

The singular design detail on the boots is a text stamp on the shoe’s upper, bearing the serial ID number and shoe color and style. "It represents a refusal of standardization," Nouvel says.

The singular design detail on the boots is a text stamp on the shoe’s upper, bearing the serial ID number and shoe color and style. "It represents a refusal of standardization," Nouvel says.

The singular design detail on the boots is a text stamp on the shoe’s upper, bearing the serial ID number and shoe color and style. "It represents a refusal of standardization," Nouvel says.

Nouvel recently debuted the Pure collection at Milan Design Week 2013, in a museum-like installation.

Co.Design

An Ultra-Minimalist Sneaker Fit For Dr. Evil

Jean Nouvel describes his über-simple moon boots as the “ideal shoe, dedicated to those who love purity of form.”

French starchitect Jean Nouvel--most recently in the news for Tower Verre, a planned expansion to New York’s MoMA--can now, somewhat curiously, add a line of Italian leather shoes to his portfolio. Nouvel’s Pure Capsule collection recently debuted at Milan Design Week, and although the architect has dabbled in sofa and chair design, this is his first move into fashion.

Nouvel’s team tells Co.Design that his continuing search for the “essence” of things is at the root of his aesthetic decision-making: “The basic concept of the design is the monolith, the search for the elementary that is at the foundation of Jean Nouvel’s creative philosophy.”

Translation? These sneaker-boots are about as dead simple as a pair of shoes can be. Each monochromatic boot has only a few seams, and the only detail on the shoe’s surface is a printed stamp with its style and color code, product name, and production date. In a video collaboration with Ruco Line, the Italian label releasing the shoes, Nouvel explains that “the aim was to get a form that could wrap the foot completely,” and that “stamping and numbering the shoes is something unique, as you do for precious things.” Given that the "things you stamp" category also includes mailing envelopes and underwear for sleepaway camp, it’s a bit of a cryptic design breakdown.

One thing is for sure: the shoes are a bold exercise in decisiveness: Nouvel drafted only one design, and buyers will commit to only one chunk of color.

The shoes are available at Ruco Line, for $430.

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2 Comments

  • Chris Kelly

    totally amazing. For this young designer, £280 is at least twice of my limit for any crazy shoe. sad face.

  • davejenk1ns

    seems like a nice triumph of fashion over function: while bold and compelling to look at, these shoes will promote sweating, flat-footedness, and fungus.

    There's a reason shoes have arches to them.  There's also a reason that sneakers are made from canvas: it breathes.