Pressure Point, 2013
Under Pressure was exhibited as part of the Wallpaper* 2013 Handmade exhibition during Milan Salone del Mobile.
Paul Cocksedge was invited by EPFL+ECAL Lab in Switzerland to explore the design potential of a ground-breaking new technology.
In a process involving metal moulds, steam and heat, any softwood such as cedar, spruce or pine can be pressurised to become as dense, strong and durable as hardwood.
Studying the process at a microstructural level, Paul realised that the patterns created in the wood grain bore a remarkable resemblance to snake-skin. The idea was born to create a high-heeled shoe - but with a difference...
Instead of the conventional heel, made from plastic or wood that has to be reinforced by a steel rod, this heel is created from nothing other than pressurized softwood, strong enough to support the weight of a human body. The shoe's upper is created by reproducing the snake-skin pattern found under the microscope. The result is a unique fusion of fashion and engineering, of classic design and new thinking.
‘This is a project that fascinated me in so many ways,’ Paul Cocksedge says. ‘It's not just the environmental benefits of being able to transform sustainable, fast-growing softwood into hardwood, but the range of uses it has, it's basically limitless. I'm really proud to have been part of the inception of this new technology’.
Pressure Point was shown as part of Under Pressure, an EPFL+ECAL Lab project which commissioned designers to show the potential of this material.
Photography: Mark Cocksedge