“For me design is about creating stories. The human need for fairy tales remains substantial. People want to identify themselves with things that are greater than life.” Meet designer Vera Meijwaard, whose fantasy worthy shoes have been playing a major part in our recent sartorial daydreams.
The Dutch artist spent time in high school dabbling in various forms of art including painting, sculpting and even designing a dress for one of her final exams. It wasn’t until she started visiting art schools in preparation for college that she decided design was her calling; and since studying Product Design at the ArtEZ Academy of the Arts in Arnhem and Shoe Craft and Design at the Dutch HealthTec Academy in Utrecht, Meijwaard has been creating footwear that is both visually bold and backed by big ideas.
“My biggest inspiration is in excess; in nature, people or stories consisting of so many elements you cannot read them at a glance,” says Meijwaard. “[My designs are inspired by] things from real life that play with your imagination.
That playful nature is on full display in her most recent collection, Renaissance of the Abundance, which is full of white and black shoes that are both structurally futuristic and luxuriously dreamy—one featuring a cage of multi-layered straps, others boasting dome-like side coverings and thick platforms that elevate a simple strappy heel into a work of art. “I designed a collection that leads on to a renaissance of extravagance and luxury,” says Meijwaard. “I tried to stress the mental importance of the visual dream. Dreams have an uplifting and comforting effect as they rise above the everyday world... and with dreams there always remains something to be desired.”
This freedom of expressing abstract ideas in her designs, is thanks in no small part to Meijwaard’s insistence that wear-ability does not factor into her creative process. During the design process, I am looking for a perfect shape that ultimately needs to fit around the foot. “When you are concerned with wear-ability it will have a direct impact on your design freedom, forcing you to do constant concessions,” says Meijwaard. “Your final design will then always be a toned down version of the image that you actually had in mind… I judge the quality of my design by the accuracy of lines and proportions.”
It is with this discerning eye that Meijwaard turns toward her future in the industry, as she delves into setting up her own unisex accessories label, in partnership with her boyfriend, VISSER & MEIJWAARD. Besides that, Meijwaard is also hard at work on a new shoe collection and planning several collaborations with various companies, one of which will take her as far from home as China, where she will design for a “big shoe label.”
Still, Meijwaard isn’t one to plan too far ahead of the creative curve. “I live in the moment and I have no idea what my life will look like in a year,” she says. “I am proud of my work but I am far from satisfied. I’ve only just started and in each new project I try to improve myself and to get the most out of it. I have only ‘made it’ when there is nothing more to learn and I [hope] that day never comes.” — KERRI JAREMA