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Rem D Koolhaas speaks to Zoot about United Nude’s flat-packed carbon fibre shoe created for the Moon Life project.

Text by Anna Battista

The space discoveries made in the ‘60s brought great hopes to humanity: in March 1965 Soviet cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov made the first space walk during the Voskhod II mission and, in July 1969, the Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

Science granted a high tech future providing new synthetic materials employed by fashion designers to create practical and functional pieces, including garments characterised by the clean cut forms of cosmonauts’ space suits or trapezoidal shaped dresses and capes that reminded instead of rockets or arrows pointing towards the sky.

In later years the optimism of the first space discoveries was replaced by dystopian concerns caused by space incidents from the Apollo 13 explosion, the failed Soyuz 10 mission and the Challenger disasters in 1986 and 2003. Yet there is a very interesting moon and art/fashion-related project currently on that tries to regain that old optimism that characterised the early space discoveries and moves from a basic concept, exploring the possibility that humans will live in space in the future.

Entitled Moon Life, the project involves artists, architects and designers and focuses on creating solutions for humans living in extreme conditions. In the last few years, many space researches were linked with military/defence aspects, but Moon Life looks instead at space with peace and culture in mind, hoping to develop innovative and useful tools.

Established by the Moon Life Foundation (founded by internationally renowned artist Alicia Framis), the project is also linked to an exhibition and pop up store (the first one opened last December in Shanghai).

Travelling all over the world the store and exhibition will present the work of architects, artists, designers and musicians dividing it in different themes, from living solutions and urban planning to leisure activities and entertainment.

The online pop up store currently features living solutions such as Framis’ Helmet House and her visual art performance “Lost Astronaut”, exploring the potential of living on the moon through the ironic and fictional character and activities of a woman astronaut; Atelier Van Lieshout’s biochemical suits, Dus Architects’ “Worldmoon”, a project for a global cemetery on the moon, and United Nude’s flat-packed carbon fibre high-heel shoe with interchangeable uppers designed for indoor use in space.

Elegant yet sexy, the shoes are characterised by a minimised volume and, since they can be customised by the wearer, they can be updated over time, a rather convenient feature explains United Nude’s Creative Director Rem D Koolhaas since the supply of shoes in space will be limited.

Zoot Magazine: How did you get involved in this project?

Rem D Koolhaas: We were asked to join it by Alicia Framis personally. I didn’t know her before, but we discovered that she is a fan of United Nude’s footwear!

Zoot Magazine: When did you first hear about the Moon Life project and what fascinated you about it?

Rem D Koolhaas: When we met Alicia last year in Shanghai and she explained us the concept. I thought she had a very nice line-up of people already joining her project, but, more than that, I was fascinated by her own work, especially her “Lost Astronaut” performance-installation.

Zoot Magazine: Did you find it challenging developing the flat-packed shoe?

Rem D Koolhaas: As a matter of fact we are still developing the product, since the one we have now is not final. Figuring out an unusual construction like this one is not easy, but we always enjoy challenges like this!

Zoot Magazine: What inspired its design?

Rem D Koolhaas: I guess many other flat-pack objects, but also toys that you can assemble by yourself.

Zoot Magazine: Is there a specific lunar mission or space station that inspired it or inspired its construction?

Rem D Koolhaas: Not necessarily, although I really like stuff with a technical look. In that sense this design goes well with space stations, satellites and rocket launching towers.

Zoot Magazine: Who is your favourite astronaut?

Rem D Koolhaas: Apart from Alicia Framis’ “Lost Astronaut”, Ham the chimpanzee that went to space and back in 1961.

Zoot Magazine: And your favourite film about space travelling?

Rem D Koolhaas: Space Chimps was not bad, my 3-year-old son Mano loves it!

Zoot Magazine: In your opinion, what will the future be like? Will we be living in space?

Rem D Koolhaas: I doubt that, but who knows. It is difficult to get stuff out there as you need so much fuel. That’s essentially the main reason why we made the shoe light and small in the first place.

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