A node is a point where two lines intersect. For footwear industry veterans, Joshua Cohen and Lee Cousins, it was the perfect way to describe their creative collaboration. Dedicated to craftsmanship and traditional shoe manufacturing, NODE footwear is an intersection of “ideas, design and culture.” The result is a juxtaposition of modern concepts and classic, timeless footwear. Node-Studio.com
What attracted you to the footwear industry?
Joshua: As a child I always liked building things, Lego, model Kits... Essentially shoe making at its core is engineering. My father was a successful shoe line-builder in the U.S.A. for many years so when he started his own business in Asia, he asked me to join him. It's a tough business but addictive, that's the only way to explain it.
Lee: I have always loved art, even as a child, and to me, the design of shoes is an extension of this; a good shoe is always a work of art. My father, grandfather and great grandfather were all in the shoe industry, and so it was almost inevitable that I should follow in their footsteps. The design of shoes has been, and remains, an unending passion for me.
What do you know now, that you wish you knew then?
Joshua: Lee can better answer this since I have only been in the business for 10 years but in those years I have learned that its all about the details!
Lee: I have been in the industry for over 40 years, and in that time I have seen vast changes in the production of shoes, both good and bad. I wish I could have foreseen that the mass production of cheaper shoes, which has flooded all markets, would lead to the loss of individuality. I am not decrying cheaper shoes, as this has meant that good design has become more and more affordable, but for me, this is why NODE is so special to us, as it is keeping the craftsmanship of footwear alive and creating a product that is based on the use of beautiful leathers, traditional last making and quality.
Do you think your geographic location has an impact on your design aesthetic?
Joshua: I live in China and Hong Kong and the energy there is crazy amazing. Its growth is exploding and the population is very open to new ideas contrary to what people may think. All the major brands are doing well here but there is large segment of customer looking for something different and unique. Japanese and Korean brands are interesting here, but more amazing are the local Chinese design talent who have studied abroad and now returned to start their own labels. That's really exciting to watch here. We are collaborating with some of them. For example, our shoes will be at the Shanghai Fashion week runway show for VEGA she is really a designer to watch.
Lee: I was born and still live in Northamptonshire, which is the heart of the U.K. shoe industry, making traditional shoes, and this definitely influences my design process. I am also a visiting lecturer at Northampton University and it gives me great pride to know that in my own way, I am helping to keep this tradition alive by passing on my skills to the next generation of shoe designers.
What has been the brand's crowning achievement to date?
Joshua: For me, it's been raising the bar on quality and delivering a product that stands on par with high-end European brands. We sacrifice nothing, every detail of the shoe is of the highest quality. As of today we stand by the product, and people have noticed.
Lee: I believe in this product and between Joshua and myself, we have created a brand that combines our personal inspiration with high quality. From the initial concept to the finished product, has been an amazing process.
What's the plan for NODE moving forward?
Joshua: To maintain quality, that to us this is the key. For the customer, NODE is an amazing product because of our expertise, attention to detail and quality of the materials. We know how some brands cheat, but we are never going down that road. We are a small unit at the moment but we plan to open showrooms in Hong Kong or Shanghai in the near future. We are already showing in Felicities showroom which has been great for getting exposure in U.K. and beyond. We are very excited about the future because we feel we have a formula, a design process and great people supporting this effort.
Lee: As Joshua said, really. I just want to continue to create shoes that customers will aspire to wear and for NODE to become an established brand.