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Traditional Moods, Modern-Style Constructions: Paris-based Belgian designer Joachim de Callatay talks to Zoot Magazine about the architectural influences in his footwear.

Text by Anna Battista

Charring cedar siding boards to reduce maintenance and create durable exterior coverings is a traditional Japanese architectural method. By looking at Joachim de Callatay’s handmade wooden wedges it’s easy to wonder if the young designer had in mind such technicalities while he created his current shoe collection.

Born in Belgium and growing up in Brussels where he also studied industrial design at La Cambre, Joachim de Callatay lived for a few years in Barcelona and eventually settled down in Paris where he founded his label, Établissment. His new footwear collection moves from traditional Japanese architecture and wooden structures and includes shoes characterised by leather uppers and a sculptural timber wedge.

Zoot Magazine: Was becoming a fashion designer what you always wanted to do in your life?

Joachim de Callatay: When I was younger I was interested in industrial design and architecture and actually wanted to be an architect! Even though I’ve always been interested in fashion, I developed a passion for it only later on.

Zoot Magazine: Who has been the greatest influence on your career? Which fashion houses or brands do you like?

Joachim de Callatay: Helmut Lang, Helmut Lang and Helmut Lang! I’m a fan of Undercover, Prada, Carhartt, Vans and Raf Simons’s designs, both for his own label and for Jil Sander. Quite a few of my personal icons who influence my fashion designs come from other disciplines actually since I don’t consider myself as a real fashion addict. For example, I like photographer Thomas Demand, painter Donald Judd and architects Albert Frey and John Lautner.

Zoot Magazine: What informs your designs?

Joachim de Callatay: The first inspiration actually revolves around how to make the shoes, so the construction and how to achieve new types of structures. The aesthetic follows in a way the construction in a creative process that I would define “Super Bauhaus”. I simply love the idea of mixing the traditional hand-making techniques with strong modern influences. I’m crazy about the work of German artist Thomas Demand who recreates his spaces in paper and cardboard and I like the idea of making the shoes like a small architecture model in scale, but with real materials.

Zoot Magazine: Your shoes have a strong architectural component since they are inspired by Japanese houses, what fascinates you about architecture?

Joachim de Callatay: Architecture is one of the main disciplines that influences me especially for what regards the construction and the way different materials work and interact together.

Zoot Magazine: Who are your favourite footwear designers/brands?

Joachim de Callatay: Super classics like Church’s or Alden, though as much as this may sound strange to you, I’m also a super Vans addict and I’ve been wearing only Vans for quite a few years now!

Zoot Magazine: What are you working on at present and will you be at any fashion show/fair in Europe in the next few months?

Joachim de Callatay: I’ve started the handmade production for the Autumn/Winter collection and I’m currently working on the next collection for the Spring/Summer 2012 season. I’m showing during womenswear fashion week in Paris in a personal showroom, that’s where you will find me in October.

Zoot Magazine: Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Joachim de Callatay: It may sound like a joke for you since Zoot is based in Portugal, but I actually see myself in Lisbon! I dream of moving my workshop over there and set up a nice space to work, following the handmade production while living between Lisbon and Paris. I don’t want my project to grow up so much and prefer the idea of keeping it small, handmade and special!

Zoot Magazine: Do you have any plans for this summer?

Joachim de Callatay: Working on more shoes! Holidays will be coming after fashion week in October!

Zoot Magazine: Where can we buy your designs?

Joachim de Callatay: Jeffrey and Patron of the New in New York; Mameg and Mona Moore in Los Angeles; Murkudis in Berlin; Dover Street Market and LN-CC in London.

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