The research project COBBLERATION promotes critical footwear design by:
(1) innovating applied design practices, (2) stimulating fundamental research in design anthropology via research on body-culture connections and foot behavior. We focus on (i) the design of footwear that improves the health of people and environment, (ii) design processes that strengthen communities through cooperative activities, and (iii) the role of walking as part of culture and identity. The latter involves research on how indigenous groups use walking, footwear, and co-creation processes to assert identity, values, and community and to connect to ancestors, space, and the non-human world.
COBBLERATION builds on the research lines first formulated in 2015 during Willems' PhD and elaborated on in the research project Future Footwear 2.0. Within this project the collaboration with artists and scientists of the Four Corner region (USA) takes a prominent place. Partnering institutes are the Dine College's Navajo Cultural Arts program in Tsaile, and Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez.