ONE shoe, ONE material, ONE Person. All in ONE.

‘one shoe’ is a concept shoe fully originated through a digital process. This means that the design of the shoe was generated through data from a user's foot such as pressure and different shapes of the foot. Then, the digital geometry was converted to a physical model via 3D printing method. The result is a concept shoe made of one unique material, with multiple behaviors for one person body’s needs. The aim is to show the potential of technological developments and their benefits for both users (personalization) and society (sustainability).



Mechanical meta-materials (MMS) are designed structures with mechanical properties that are not found in ordinary materials. Essentially, through the design of the structure, we are able to influence the mechanical deformation. When combining different structures it’s possible to achieve multi-properties of the material compound through the design of the structure. This process allows programming the behaviour of the material, hence its performance, according to the application area. Some examples include make materials more soft, stiff, absorb impact or having a responsive deformation.

Project by Alexande Ion. In this example, the researchers used 2D cell structures design to create a functional door locker. Using 3D printing they were able to achieve a mono-material product with multi-behavior due to the use of different cell structures combined.

Project by Corentin Coulais. 3D cells that support the creation of structures with programmable properties created. By simply orientating the position of the 3D cell in the inside architecture of the cube, the I/O can be designed according to the designer’s preference. These qualities are particularly noteworthy as they can replace traditional mechanical/electrical actuators and allow for new interactions.

Understanding Metamaterials

Through a Research Through Design approach, the qualities, dynamics, and appropriate techniques of manufacturing for each structure design were studied. I started this process by building kirigamis samples in order to explore and understand the behaviour of the MMS under stress. Several iterations and types of structure designs were tested in order to built a library of MMS with distinct behaviours. Below are some of the images that report this explorative phase.


Material behavior

Possibility to program the behavior of a material according to the performance needed through the combination of different MMS.


The possibility of using the same material compound (e.g a 3D printed polymer) allow MMS to create multi-material states that otherwise could only be achieved through composite materials.


Patterns created by the MMS are both pleasant considering the aesthetics of forms and dynamics.

Applications Range

Depending on the contexts of use,  such as impact absorption, lightweight or open structure (breathable).



Most of the MMS require advanced methods of manufacturing such as 3D printing due to the complexity of the structure's design.


Both considering the size scale and the production scale, it's very much dependent on technology advances in the field of additive manufacturing.


Since it is a technology in its early days of development, the cost of application and production are considerably high.


Software development is still very limited to basic functions. Plus, to generate some simulations models of MMS takes a considerable amount of computing power.

Aplications - examples

Protective Equipment

Football helmet by Riddell in collaboration with Carbon 3D printing.


Concept by ART 4 LEG while making use of parametric design approach.


Car seat, concept design from Toyota.


Kinematics dress by Nervous Systems.

Case Study

Footwear - Opportunity Value


The diversity of different materials used in a shoe is often associated with the performance of the shoe. Different materials are used to achieve multi-properties behavior such as stiffness and softness. This creates materials composites, which increases the complexity of recycling the shoe precluding the product material to be reused which ends up in a landfill waiting to decompose.


By nature people are different. We have different bodies, tastes or even emotional needs. Yet, people with the same foot size but with differences in the shape of the foot, and weight usually wear the same shoes.

The adaptability and multi-behaviour properties of MMS allows solving both problems by incorporating them in the shoe sole. In addition, with the use of data from the person’s foot in the design process of the shoe, and the new methods of additive manufacturing facilitates the accomplishment of a piece of footwear that is both personalized and sustainable.


Collecting Data

The different pressure areas of the foot plant were measured through a special treadmill which was able to precisely collect that data.

To understand foot dynamics and its change in shape the foot was 3D scanned in a loaded and unloaded position.

Analysing the data

The upper data graph shows the maximum force in the front foot and heel in a standing position. While the below, shows the different levels pressure on the foot's plant.

Examining the 3D scan result. The model will be used as an input for the sole shape design.

Overlap image of the foot's change in a unloaded (orange) and loaded (red) position. When loaded the foot tends to  expand on the sides, roughly 6 mm, and 4 mm in the front toe.

Generative Algorithm

Above image illustrates the 3 inputs used to generate the personalized shoe sole: 1ª - pressure maps data; 2ª design space, the sole volume; 3ª mechanical metamaterials library of design structures with different behaviours.  The image below shows the algorithm in action when updating the foots image. Notice the MMS changing place.

The algorithm works by receiving three main input parameters. Then, the program  maps the data from the pressure maps  to the MMS behaviour. The second part of the algorithm fills the design space, imported into the program, and allows the user to control the structure density manually, if needed.

Manufacturing (3D printing)

The last stage concerns the manufacturing process which to produce such a model 3D printed was the best option known available.

Results - Renders & Physical models

Concept Design - 'one shoe'

Inspiration Moodboards

Get inspired by 3D printed textiles, 3D facade tiles, architecture spaces, shoe design shapes, the combination of fashion-tech, young people’s lifestyle, and skaters style.

Market research

Several brands have been focusing on exploring the potential of 3D printed mid-soles.  Nevertheless, they use a system of the same repeated lattice or a  focus on the structure density. This leaves space to explore mid-soles which combine different MMS behaviours that match the dynamic's needs of a person's foot. As well as exploring fully 3D printed shoes and its benefits for footwear recycling process.


Exploration of 'one shoe' layout options.

Branding - Logo

This logo aims to reflect the idea of a new approach to footwear, more sustainable and more personal. The 'one shoe' logo is the symbol of the one truly shoe we all need.

Final Design

Project exposure

ONE shoe project has been featured during the Dutch Design Week 2018 as part of the Mind the Step exhibition where roughly 75.000 people attended the exhibition in 2018. The project was shown under the topic “Innovative Materials”, meant to be a reference of showcasing the application of mechanical metamaterials in everyday products.

The research part of this project has been featured and awarded by the DUDE (Dutch Designers) magazine as one of the 30 best 2018 graduation projects in the Netherlands. In addition, the research insights were documented, presented and archived at the 4th ACM Symposium on Computational Fabrication’19. Whereas 3D Hubs has awarded 'one shoe' project as WINNER of the Student Grant'19 in the Product Design category.


The possibility for people to personalize their footwear will become more and more available over the next years. Shoe personalization will represent a shift in the future of the footwear industry. This will be possible due to technological developments that merge smart materials, additive manufacturing, or generative design systems which throughout the process embed user’s data.


This project was part of my Master’s thesis, and my goal was to understand emerging technologies such as smart materials, generative design, big data, and additive manufacturing in order to empower footwear personalization while using sustainable methods of manufacturing. I believe these technologies when combined can facilitate, not only of footwear but many other areas from automotive to furniture design in order to create products that are personalized and Eco-friendly.

'One Shoe' concept aims to showcase all the different tech aspects to built a shoe that's more sustainable and personal. Regarding design choices, instead of going through a more traditional approach used  in footwear design for decades, I decided to keep the concept as a mirror of the technology used to conceive it, so the people could visualize and understand better the power of research, tech, and design combined.

'one shoe' was developed by Davide Amorim. The project was coached by Miguel Bruns (thesis mentor) with the close supervision of PhD candidate Troy Nachtingall.

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