Velvit Welcomes NOOID
Swedish shoemaker Marie Bjorklund of NOOID discusses her fashion background, her focus on detail, and how Legos factor into her design process
Velvit met with NOOID's head shoe designer to learn more about the complexities and challenges of shoe construction, her sculptural influences, and where the name NOOID comes from.
Velvit: How do your Swedish roots influence your design aesthetic?
Marie Bjorklund: I come from Sweden and live in Stockholm. I grew up in a small town called Söderhamn located in the northern part of Sweden. Creating was a natural part of my childhood. My grandmother Anna was artistically talented and very creative. She had a sewing machine shop and made special orders for clothing and interior design. My grandfather worked as a photographer. I believe everyone is affected by their surroundings in one way or another. I suppose my Scandinavian origin has made an imprint on my designs, whether intentionally or subconsciously, leaving traces of a minimalistic kind of aesthetic.
V: Where did you learn to be a shoe designer?
MB: I initially started as a fashion designer. I got my BA in fashion design from Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm. As a shoe designer, I am self-taught. I learn by doing. I also regularly consult a renowned shoemaker in Sweden, Carina Eneroth. I consult with her from time to time during the prototyping stage to help me technically evaluate the craftsmanship of my designs. Carina helps to debug any components that aren't working correctly or need to be fine-tuned.
V: When did you know you wanted to create shoes instead of clothing?
MB: During my fashion design education, I always put a lot of focus on shoes and accessories. I remade vintage shoes. I wanted to make real shoes. During that time, it was not common for Swedish clothing designers to offer a shoe line in their range, and I could not afford to make my own shoes. I did a lot of research and finally got in contact with a Swedish woman who was working with shoe factories in Italy.
V: What is your favorite thing about making shoes?
MB: Shoes are so interesting and inspirational to work with, both as artistic items and as wearable designs. I love the detail. I love the challenges of getting the right shape and combining the materials in the shoe construction. I always strive to push limits with the intention of creating something unique. I am very dedicated to each of my shoes.
V: What is your earliest fashion-related memory?
MB: My earliest fashion-related memory is actually less about fashion and more about my focus on detail, a focus I have kept ever since. At a very young age, I almost drove my mother crazy when we were out buying jeans. My main focus was on the pockets, whether they had the right look, detail, and placement to meet my approval. (Not many did.)
V: How did you come up with the name NOOID for your line?
MB: The idea was to come up with a word that would mark our brand, a stylish and unusual name with a graphic profile of expression. From the start, I knew I did not want a name that could be connected or associated with another person's name or with a similar brand. My fiancé, Peter helped me with the idea. We played around with the ordering of a fixed set of letters. We tried different groups of letters and looked at the various results as a graphic entity. During one of these exercises, suddenly the combination NOOID (pronounced as one word, like "new-id") stood out from the rest and then we just knew it. NOOID.
V: What inspires you as a designer?
MB: I am inspired by sculptural shapes. I observe my surroundings, the surfaces, structures, details, vintage objects, anything. I experiment with draping and sketching. During the development phase, or when I do further work on previous designs, sometimes I am inspired to go in a different direction.
V: What is the hardest thing about shoemaking?
MB: All the components need to be put together perfectly and made exactly as you wish in order to make a good shoe design. It can be a challenge.
V: What is your design process like?
MB: My process varies depending on whether I need to create a new heel or sole. First I sketch. I often work sculpturally, building forms from clay, paper, or any other material available. I even work with Legos when sculpting square-shaped forms. Tape is also one of my favorite tools. I experiment and test the parts and shapes. I like to work with draping techniques for the shoe's upper construction. I drape the material around my feet and legs to achieve the desired cut. I often work with my existing shoe models as well. I also keep sample shapes and product prototypes on hand.
V: Who makes up the NOOID team?
MB: NOOID is a small company and presently we do not have a team. I am the only designer. I discuss most matters regarding NOOID with my fiancé, who I use as a sounding board at home. He helps me with the particular task of finding names for the shoes. We have great friends and contacts who help out with things like photographing, styling, hair and makeup, etc. Most prominent of these is our good friend Daniel Berglund, who is an Art Director. Daniel created our logo and helps with Art Direction. We just recently did a photo shoot with Risberg/Blom for the online shop and an exhibition. I have an agent in Portugal who deals with factories, production, and translating documents into Portuguese. We work with two different and very good factories, but we have been through a number of factories to get to this point. I travel to the factories to oversee the designs, go through the shoes, and stay informed about production.
V: Where do you think shoes fall in the realm of art?
MB: Fantastic and well-made clothes can be art, and the same is true for shoes. When a shoe fascinates and expresses something special, it is art. From an artistic perspective, a shoe can be regarded as a sculpture for its innovation, its artistic beauty, and for the complexity behind its outstanding craftsmanship. In my opinion, a shoe can definitely be considered art.
V: What is the best piece of advice you can give an aspiring shoe designer?
MB: Do not limit yourself. Stay true to your vision. Be open-minded with an interest in learning new things. One of the best pieces of advice I received was to study anatomy for a better understanding of how the foot is shaped.
V: Do you have a new collection in the works?
MB: Collection 02 will be available Spring 2015. I have developed a new range based on the square. I also have new pump designs in the making, as well as new platform styles. I constantly design styles and live with them for a while to get a feel for which to take to the next stage.
For more information on Marie Bjorklund and NOOID, visit our Artist profiles and shop our Velvit boutique.