Geography plays an integral part in the design process. From the proximity to manufacturing to cultural nuances, inspiration begins with our own experiences. For up-and-coming footwear designer Zuhal Canyurt, it’s the driving force behind her designs.

“Coming from a different background has made me see things differently,” says the Turkish native.  “It allows me to create unique works of art and design.”

Since graduating from Anatolian University, Canyurt’s unique aesthetic has caught the attention of the footwear industry and consumers alike. Using traditional, southeast Anatolian tattoo art as inspiration, Canyurt’s current collection blends the right amount of wear-ability with couture-like qualities­. Tribal motifs in a classic black on white palette are combined with an avant-garde, heel silhouette that puts the beauty back into boots.
“My inspirations are different from most of the designers in the world,” says Canyurt. “My productivity and creativity are not resulted from mere luck, they are directly related to the way I work and my cultural background.” Canyurt gathers a wide variety of data when it comes to designing, combining research with her wide range of skills in industrial design, architecture, fine arts and visual arts.

A self-confessed footwear “newbie,” Canyurt studied fashion before moving into heavenly heels. It was a series of design competitions, however, which uncovered a true love—and talent—for footwear.

“Design is a creative process which should be inspired by various disciplines,” says Canyurt. “A shoe designer should not, actually cannot, only be influenced from other shoe designers but should also follow various artists, creative people from other disciplines such as fashion design, fine arts, architecture and industrial design. In my case, despite being inspired from many disciplines, I realized after the competition that I could be really successful if I specialized in footwear especially because there are not enough footwear designers in Turkey.”

Canyurt is a designer who believes in her aesthetic and is not adverse to sacrificing comfort for style. “I think both aesthetics and comfort are important. But for me, aesthetics have always come first,” says Canyurt.

Melding this design philosophy with marketability has been an eye opener in the commercial market. “I got really excited when I had my first offer from a well-known brand in Turkey,” says Canyurt. “It was not easy for me to design shoes that would be parallel to the general style of the brand, but would also carry my style aesthetic. It was a bit disappointing to see what drives these big brands; it was not passion or creativity, but instead a lack of courage; they do not want to try something new in most cases.”

For Canyurt, it’s a quest for knowledge and experience that propels her on with plans to further her knowledge of heavenly heels and knock on the doors of major footwear markets. “I really want to specialize in footwear design, studying in Europe for my Masters Degree and then I would love to work in the European and North American market,” says Canyurt. Wherever the design world chooses to take her, we will be sure to follow. — NIGEL ISAIAH