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.