A Measurable Factor Sets the Conditions of its Operation / 2013
13 February - 6 April 2013
Stanley Picker Gallery
Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture
Kingston University, Knights Park
Kingston upon Thames KT1 2QJ


A Measurable Factor Sets the Conditions of its Operation is an exhibition of investigative pieces, processes, tests and trials for a new footwear collection informed by engineering principles. Marloes ten Bhömer's aim is to completely replace the standard and regimented approaches to footwear design and manufacturing with the working processes of engineering. This method, which purposefully shirks fashion trends and styles, is based on research into the structural parameters required to support a foot (in a high-heeled position) while in motion.

Displayed throughout the exhibition are artifacts from a series of structural, aesthetic and cultural experiments and outcomes, conducted and produced over the course of a year. The White Prototypes (2013) displayed on the shelves are test pieces, mapping out specific combinations of foot and ground contact points derived from anatomical and kinematic studies. Alongside them are a collection of sketches, construction rigs, slow-motion video footage, pressure-mat analyses, prototypes of various complexities, film compilations, prints and slides. Intuitive experiments and analytical studies, observations and inferences, triumphs and failures, are all presented together in the gallery installation. 

As demonstrated in the projected video Material Compulsion (2013), the high-heeled woman is a complex construct, one designed for, and ultimately sanctioned to, the man-made environment. When placed in alternative settings (through the narrative of a film, for example) or when forced to walk through unique substrates, a woman in heels loses her equilibrium (both physically and culturally) and begins to slip, trip, sink or tumble, thereby transforming her perceived identity.

The consequences of ten Bhömer's extensive research methodology, developed over the course of her Stanley Picker Fellowship at Kingston University, are two-fold: First, the approach reveals a link between rationalised parameters, aesthetic intuition and structural understanding. Second, by considering 'the woman in motion' as an engineering problem, she exposes and questions the role high heels play in the cultural construction of female identity.

A Stanley Picker Fellowship Research Project (Kingston University)
A special thank you to: Ioannis Belimpasakis, James Brouner, Marc
Bultitude, Kenny Evans, Laura Hodson, Phil Hollins, Graeme MacKay, Stephanie Jayne Price, Emma Rummins, Nicola Swann, Jane and James at Sugru, Per Tingleff, Noam Toran, Nick Williamson
and the Stanley Picker Gallery team. 
Photography: Ellie Laycock.

Concept development during the Jerusalem Center For The Visual Arts residency 2010






Material Compulsion / 2013
Video: Shot on Phantom HD at 500 FPS
Running time: 12:19 min
Written, Produced and Directed: Marloes ten Bhömer
Director of photography: Per Tingleff
Art Director: Noam Toran





Bluepanelshoe / 2015
Materials: leather and stainless steel
Commissioned by the Design Museum London for the exhibition:
Life on Foot 2, 13 May - 1 November 2015
Curated by Pete Collard and Anniina Koivu

Bluepanelshoe is an extension of the research conducted during the Stanley Picker Fellowship, the initial results of which were accumulated in the exhibition A Measurable Factor Sets the Conditions of its Operation in 2013. One of the focus points of the fellowship – alongside an examination of the cultural connotations of women’s footwear – was research into the structural parameters required to support a foot (in a high-heeled position) while in motion. These parameters were derived from anatomic and kinematic studies, with the aim to use them as a base to generate new footwear possibilities. A series of 17 ‘hypotheses’ for high-heeled footwear were produced, each one forms a different mapping of foot-to-ground contact points, or ‘constellations’.

The maps were produced both as a set of silkscreen prints titled Constellations (2013) and as computer models. These contact point constellations were also produced as physical, 3D printed testing shoes titled White Prototypes (2013).

Bluepanelshoe, the first shoe generated from one of the 17 hypothetical constellations, is based on the following anatomic insight: In barefoot ambulant motion the heel strikes on the lateral side of the foot and propels the foot through the big toe. The hypothesis is that in high-heeled ambulant motion, the heel (both the heel of the foot and the physical shoe part) should also strike on the lateral side of the foot. The resulting heel design derived from these parameters would make the foot prone to eversion and inversion. In order to negate this motion, a ring shaped constellation of contact is placed around the foot.

By ignoring the sandwich method – the traditional manner in which shoes are produced – and basing the design on these structural parameters and adhering contact constellations instead, the aesthetic and structural possibilities open up completely. Congruently, these new set of parameters, which shirk fashion trends, allow for new shoe typologies which defy cultural stigmas that too often lead to the stereotyping of women.

Mapping of foot-to-ground contact points followed by computer model (in mint green) for 3D printing the testing shoes White Prototypes (2013).
Constellations (2013) silkscreen print on paper.
White Prototypes (2012-2013) nylon rapid prototyped and high impact polystyrene.
Bluepanelshoe (2015) leather and stainless steel.

Marloes ten Bhömer talks about her research practice and Stanley Picker Fellowship as part of the Design Symposium in memory of Alex Ward, Senior Curator of Design and Architecture, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1999−2012
Held on November 11, 2013 at the Springer Auditorium, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem


Constellations (2013) silkscreen print on paper.

back to top


© Marloes ten Bhömer 2000-2019