Weave as a method of sandal design: Innovation through a hands-on approach


This research investigated the application of a hands-on woven textile approach to sandal design. It identified and assessed the creative design potential, the practical considerations, and the relevance of positioning it within the ready-to-wear footwear market. A design process model was produced in relation to the findings to develop an industry relevant framework. The aim of this was to provide an approach to enhancing competitive advantage through design innovation. Through a critical discussion and analysis of design approaches the research also aimed to contribute to knowledge within the academic field of design process theory.

A critical literature review was carried out which focused on current and state-of-the-art practices and products in footwear and woven textiles; the commercial contexts in which they sit; and academic theory of design approaches and hands-on making to support innovation. This contextualised and provided a reference point for the empirical research. Data was collected via a series of practice-based case studies in the form of design projects, in-depth semi-structured interviews and a focus group with design professionals. The design process model was developed in response to the findings and it depicts a collaborative approach between woven textile and footwear designers that is relevant within a commercial design context.

The hands-on woven textile approach under investigation consisted of the integration of hand weaving and other associated processes into the sandal design. Materials and constructions were considered at the early, explorative stages of the design process in parallel with form giving. The research findings indicated that the in-depth knowledge of materials and constructions gained through hands-on making could enhance creativity by informing design concepts. Weaving by hand was found to provide heightened levels of control for design development, allowing for technical and subjective decision making to take place in parallel. In these respects, the hand weaving process was most applicable to carrying out in-depth research into materials and constructions and in supporting design development through a process of sampling and review. Quick methods of 3D modelling supported idea generation and digital processes aided visualisation and the presentation of design proposals.

Additionally, the research provides an example of a practice-based methodology for design process research. Methods of data collection, analysis and dissemination are presented and discussed throughout.



Doctorate type


Year of completion


Case study type

Research through design

Institution details

School of Creative Arts

Textile design