The Explorium HK, an initiative of the Fung Group, designed to encourage innovation and conversation about the future of retail, has launched an Entrepreneur-In-Residence programe, which includes “office hours” – during which time colleagues can visit and ask them questions. We caught up with the program’s first Entrepreneur-In-Residence – 3D cobbler and founder of Fused Footwear, Philippe Holthuizen and asked him a few questions about what he
Hi Philippe! What exactly is a 3D cobbler?
Philippe: A 3D Cobbler is basically somebody who makes shoes but completely in 3D, in the virtual space. An old school cobbler would always use a last – a stylized foot shape to build a shoe around, but because I use 3D printing to make my shoes, I build my shoe designs on a computer.
What is your background?
I’m a product designer. I studied to be a car designer but I didn’t want to be a car designer in the end. I did product design for about 10 years, mostly in Amsterdam – and then around 2011, I found a job with United Nude, in footwear. I was hired as a 3D designer, so I was doing a lot of the hardware, the heels, and stuff like that. We also worked on some very interesting collaborations with Zaha Hadid, Dries van Noten – and those shoes were very complicated but a lot of fun. It was those experiences that helped me understand the evolution of 3D shoe as it happened.
So then what made you develop Fused Footwear?
Well, after I left United Nude, I came to Hong Kong to set up a startup with a friend of mine. We were going to make orthopedic fashion sandals and the orthopedic part was 3D printed – that was really my introduction to hands-on 3D-printing. That startup didn’t really work out, but after that I decided to buy a 3D printer and just see if I could start making shoes.
How has the Explorium HK Entrepreneur-In-Residence experience been for you?
It’s been amazing. The people who work at Fung Group are very open minded and very knowledgeable, so the conversations that we’ve been having about how I can develop my brand, have been really helpful. And not only that, the people here also have a great network of course, so they’ve been putting me in touch with incubators and startup mentors – and that’s been really good as well.
Philippe’s work printing shoes using a 3D printer and customizing them for each customer, earned him a fan following at Fung Group, and we look forward to seeing where Fused Footwear goes from here!
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