Rik Olthuis has always dreamed of designing shoes and has taken the first step toward this sustainable dream. The Massey University graduate designed a fully biodegradable running shoes for a project last year. The number of pairs of shoes produced globally has gone up since 1950. Most shoes end up in a landfill and can take 50 years to fully decompose. The Voronoi runners can be easily deconstructed, cause every material and component can be composted. To create the shoes, he developed a gelatin and glycerine-based biodegradable foam to replace the usual blown polyurethane. The sneakers are named after the mathematical equation used to make the pattern on the sole and midsole of the shoe, called Voronoi structure.
Olthuis 3D printed this structure from a biodegradable filament, while the shoe’s upper is made from merino wool with a 3D printed detail. He made 15 individual shoes while developing the final design, and one pair of shoes costs about $100 to make. The shoes were entered in a competition, and Rik really impressed the judges with this idea. Olthuis will receive money to go toward helping test the form and strength of a biodegradable filament. He and two others will move on to the international state of the competition, where a top 20 will be picked by a panel of Dyson engineers. I cannot wait to see where Rik’s design ideas end up.