The Gommino Leo is the star of the 2016 edition of Looking at Tod’s, the project that brings together Tod’s and the design world, headed by Giulio Cappellini, who focused the spotlight on nine young designers and their unique interpretations of the iconic Gommino. Citations from design, architecture and fine art, which Tod’s artisans have translated into special limited editions (available in Tod’s Milan boutique, in Via della Spiga, starting April 14, Design Week).
Ceramic, marble, leather, metal and wood are the materials Giulio Cappellini chose for each of the design studios he selected. Let’s get acquainted with the architect, celebrated by Time magazine as one of the ten global trendsetters in fashion and design and ambassador par excellence of Italian design worldwide, and get a glimpse of the thinking behind the Looking at Tod’s, project, 2016 edition.
How did you choose the designers? “I looked for designers from the new generation who were using a lexicon of their own, instead of echoing past greats. These are young Italians, with experience under their belts and a global perspective, many of whom work with foreign partners, offering a kind of nomadic design, which has a long-distance appeal.” What do they have in common? “The assignment was to intervene on a product that had already been designed, with solutions involving fine artisanship: what they all shared was a sharp focus on materials.” What about the future of design, where are we headed? “There’s a spirit of experimentation, of investing in self-production, and a renewed hands-on approach to materials. In short: less rendering and more prototypes.”
Which, how and why: and now, a word from the five design studios.
Enrica Cavarzan and Marco Zavagno, ZAVEN The Past is the future.
Based in Venice, they blend design, art and communication. Their material for the revisited Leo is wood. Applied to the buckle: “We were looking for an upbeat intervention on a classically elegant piece, associating wood with plants from the tropics.”
Shoes = what? A lawn. If you enclose a foot, it must be enveloped by comfort.
What’s interesting about walking? The moment when you lift your heel: maximum tension.
More attracted by tradition or the avant-garde? The past is the future, we can’t tell the difference. Even in a classic men’s lace-up with a nineteenth century flair, we immediately notice the claw marks of contemporary experimentation.
4.   What do shoes say about their wearers? Too much attention can turn into obsession, otherwise a lighthearted vivaciousness.
LEONARDO TALARICO Futurism light
Design that gets to the heart of the matter: “Where everything is more orderly, even chaos.” Purity and linearity distinguish, for example, his landscape-vases, with bowl and stem evoking a mental panorama of Zen extraction. For the Gommino Leo, which Leonardo deprived of the band on which the buckle rests, his material challenge was titanium. The theme was addressed with a nod to sartorial excellence: pins which, like avant-garde haute couture, hold together the seams on the sides of the Tod’s Gommino.
Shoes = what? A vase. Both serve to contain something. I don’t particularly love flowers, but I design lots of vases.
What’s interesting about walking? The pressure that a shoe exerts on the ground reflects one’s state of mind.
More attracted by tradition or the avant-garde? First off, more by ideas than things, and preferably ideas that look forward, but with respect for the past, a sort of futurism light.
4.   What do shoes say about their wearers? The secret is how you wear them. As for the choice of which model to wear, well, I wait until at least the second time before forming an opinion.
Tommaso Nani, of MIST-O. Pop pattern, Milan-Tokyo
Tommaso Nani works with a Japanese partner, Noa Ikeuchi, who is based in Tokyo. Esthetically, the two are quite similar. In fact, each one loves the other’s country.
For Looking at Tod’s, they provided a pop version of the Gommino in ceramic, the material assigned them. A pattern of squares, printed helter-skelter, like a handful of confetti, reinterprets the timeless elegance of the shoe. Pressed in relief, to give the surface a three-dimensional feel, as if it were leather.
Shoes = what? A vase. An accessory that you customize and that you want to look at, like the shoes you wear.
What’s interesting about walking? The coordinated movement, perceived as a single, abstract unit.
More attracted by tradition or the avant-garde? By the matching and personal touches, cutting edge. I like seeing materials used with different languages, experimental.
4.   What do shoes say about their wearers? You buy them for yourself, to see them on your feet, all day long. How well it fits or how much it clashes with your style is a litmus test for extroversion.
Creating a Journey
Francesca Lanzavecchia: “We work together, in Pavia and Singapore, on projects that will reflect both cultures and project them forward, creating a journey.” And forward is also designing a Gommino Leo in marble: “A shoe that reflects the traditions of my childhood and marble, an equally timeless material: a print cuts the soft and supple Tod’s leather, like an inlay.”
Shoes = what? A suitcase, a trip. Shoes serve to move forward, and even to run away.
What’s interesting about walking? Seeing whether the head remains still, and I’m fascinated by those who put their feet down toe first. I decorated it, in fact.
More attracted by tradition or the avant-garde? I find metals very interesting, and I like experimental constructions. In this sense, more as sculpture than as a means of escape.
4.   What do shoes say about their wearers? A shoe speaks to the way you walk through the world: how you want to be seen, where you’re coming from, how much control you want to exert.
Giorgia Zanellato and Daniele Bortotto Nonstop experimentation
They presented the Acqua Alta collection in 2013, then they collaborated with historic firms like Rubelli and Moroso, with great rigor and artisanal experimentation. Their material, leather: “We have revisited an important classic, eliminating the buckle and replacing it with its outline, using an artisanal thermoforming technique, and then hand-stitching the seams.”
Daniele, and then Giorgia, in the order in which they appear.
Shoes = what? A glass. // A carpet.
What’s interesting about walking? It says a lot about who you are. // The rapid pace.
More attracted by tradition or the avant-garde? A hearty helping of the past. // The past, especially in the shape.
4.   What do shoes say about their wearers? The color is telling: those who wear gray are a bit like that. // The shape, too: I tend to like those who pick a more rounded one.