“Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes made from the padding of his 1987 Porsche 944.”

Transportation design student Matt Zheng describes himself as a “Porsche nerd”, owner of a Boxster and a 1987 944. He studies full-time at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena. This semester, in addition to drawing cars for his other classes, he is following a new class called ECOMADEinLA. He and seven other students designed and made “clothing and furniture” while working with six Los Angeles companies. The students repurposed what is known in the carpet industry as “leftovers”, but in this case it is “locally recycled materials, such as dead leather, dead denim and fabric from recycled airbag.

“They transformed these materials through smart design and ethical manufacturing to create surf bags, shoes, puffer jackets, wristbands and running jackets,” says ArtCenter.

Design student Matt Zheng and a pair of shoes he made from the seats of his 944.

Marc Vaughn

We’re specifically looking at a pair of shoes that Zheng made from the leftover fabric from his 944 when he reupholstered it.

“I’m a designer, I design cars,” Zheng said. “It’s my passion side. I love cars, obviously, so these shoes are made from the material of my own car.

Zheng was reupholstering his car around the same time he was taking the course. So, after removing the old seat material and the padding that was glued to the back of it, he designed a shoe that would include the remaining material. One of the companies the class works with is an LA company called COMMUNITYmade. COMMUNITYmade specializes in shoemaking and can make all kinds of custom shoes in any number you want and can even use “locally improved materials” like Porsche 944 seats.

Zheng took that seat material, added locally sourced houndstooth fabric from leftovers from the Los Angeles clothing district, and COMMUNITYmade did the rest.

“The idea is that we can cook anything here, we have boutique studio capabilities, we can create custom versions, we can actually make any shoe from scratch,” said Shannon Scott, co-owner of COMMUNITYmade. “So it’s not just our role models, we’ve had a lot of other creators come in.”

So someone could come with their own gear…

“…and a sketch and we bring it to life and put it into production if they need it.”

art center student porsche shoes
ArtCenter design student Jess Ziman made this sofa from the material used to make inflatable cushions.

Marc Vaughn

Zheng and fellow student Preston Sanchez made shoes for their class projects. Other students have made backpacks, tote bags and even a surfboard bag from the material used to make air bags. The class itself was made possible in part by a grant from VentureWell, a non-profit organization dedicated to “cultivating inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs committed to solving the world’s greatest challenges and creating impact.” sustainable”.

art center student porsche shoes
Anna Joy Lee made a surfboard bag from automotive airbag material.

Marc Vaughn

A student, Jess Ziman, made a very comfortable sofa from an air bag. Another, surfer Anna Joy Lee, made a carry bag for her surfboard, along with several other bags and backpacks. All products were made from materials that would otherwise be thrown away and clog a landfill somewhere. Shoes in particular lend themselves to being made from salvaged materials because a shoe doesn’t require a lot of donor fabric or leather to make – COMMUNITYmade adds the soles and sews it all together.

The only problem is that this is all still in the design phase, at least as far as the ArtCenter student projects you see here are concerned. Even if you want a pair of Porsche shoes from Zheng, it’s hard to convince him to commit to a business deal. Such a deal can come to fruition and can even be helped by instructor and entrepreneur Mateo Neri.

“If someone says, ‘Hey, I want 100’ or ‘I want a pair and I’ll provide the leather’, yes, we could make them,” Neri said. “That’s the beauty of COMMUNITYmade, it’s a real shoe brand that makes the shoes right here in LA. They have the ability to make one pair or 1000 pairs.

So at the very least you could send your own seat fabric to COMMUNITYmade and they would be happy to make your shoes or go into business. with you make a thousand shoes. COMMUNITYmade will make any shoe you want, starting at $400 a pair if you only have one pair made. If you make a deal to make 1000 pairs of shoes, the price goes down. Whether Zheng would design your Porsche shoe has yet to be decided. He’s still a full-time student, remember.

Looking at these things, however, it really seems like there would be a demand for them.

As they say, “Shut up and take my money!”

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