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Benjamin John Hall_Shoes & Ideas_Interview

 
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Posted on Jun 23 2016
Benjamin John Hall-ladiesngents

Benjamin John 
Hall-ladiesngents



You approach shoe design with the eye and sensibility of an artist, while also having all the skills of the expert shoemaker.
How did you arrive to this way of working with shoes?


I have a lot of varied experience in shoes from working for one of the largest footwear companies in the world to small startups,
teaching both design and shoemaking and running my own studio. Through time I realised that I'm more interested in ideas and slowly ideas started to become more important than shoes. So although I have and still work in the footwear/fashion industry my own practice has leaned towards art and I take the skills I've learned working in footwear with me to help execute ideas. In my work shoes are just a medium like a paint brush, pencil, gauche or acrylic.






K O M P R O M A T  (key technical piece)


Benjamin John 
Hall-ladiesngents




Benjamin John Hall-ladiesngents




Benjamin John Hall-ladiesngents




Benjamin John Hall-ladiesngents



Concealed as a design detail and woven into the back of the wedge on this black and white T-strap is a gunpowder-fuse trim. This fuse can be activated from up to 20 metres away and is detonated wirelessly by opening, pretending to drink and then crushing the accompanying soft drink can. Kompromat is Russian for ‘compromising material’ about a politician or other public figure. These materials are generally used to create negative publicity,
to damage reputations or for use in blackmail. This pair of shoes is not intended to hurt anyone wearing them or standing in the vicinity; instead they are designed to place the wearer in a compromising situation in which the potential of being arrested and questioned is increased.
Shoes: optic white goat leather with gloss Italian box calf, gunpowder-fuse trim and printed components. Soft drink can: 3D-printed components, aluminium can.








G E I G E R  (key technical piece)


Benjamin John 
Hall-ladiesngents



Benjamin John Hall-ladiesngents



Benjamin John Hall-ladiesngents



Benjamin John Hall-ladiesngents



This Japanese geta, with a separate leather sock and
matching make-up case, conceals technology allowing the wearer to detect radiation in their immediate environment. Controlled by a monitoring system within the platform of the shoe, the strap vibrates to alert the wearer of any radiation pulse it detects. Concurrently, the amount of radiation is continually updated on a wireless LED display embedded in the make-up case, allowing the wearer to discreetly check contamination levels and act accordingly.
To avoid suspicion, an invisible pressure button toggles the LED reading from time to radiation level.
Shoes: printed components, equine leather with chrome plating. Make-up case: 3D-printed components, with embossed leather and metal plating.









K R Y S H A


Benjamin 
John Hall-ladiesngents



A zip around the ankle of this mid-calf boot, when opened, allows the wearer to extend it to the top of the thigh. Each layer uncovers a segment of printed silk,
which outlines an inventory of crimes with a signature against them. Krysha is Russian criminal slang for ‘roof’ or ‘protection’, referring to a business practice common in post-Soviet Russia, in particular by newly moneyed oligarchs, of paying individuals with political and mafia
connections significant sums of money in return for protection. By uncovering each one of the five preauthorised levels outlined on the boot, the wearer can activate emergency Krysha. Digital print on Habotai silk with equine leather.








For your collection “Laboratory 12" you experiment with state-of-the-art technology, and in doing so the results challenge our imagination and  inspire us. In what way does footwear provide interesting space for experimentation? In other words, why did you choose footwear as a vehicle for experimentation?

I've been making shoes since I began to study shoemaking and design when I was about 19 years old so shoes have become a type of language for me. There is always experimentation in shoe design, this could be as simple as holding up two Pantone colour combinations together to see if they look good or it can be taken to extremes for more extreme results. Experimentation is crucial for design and I would say a key component in creativity. The more you do, the more likely your work will be original.

Footwear is interesting to experiment with as there are many views people have in terms of the criteria footwear should meet, is it luxurious, is it sexy, is it functional, is it cheap or expensive, is it rare, what does it say about the owner etc and all of these notions can be challenged, mixed to varying degrees and thrown in to the cooking pot.









Z E R S E T Z U N G  (key technical piece)



Benjamin John
 Hall-ladiesngents



Benjamin John Hall-ladiesngents



Benjamin John Hall-ladiesngents



This platform sandal houses a mechanism that can be activated by sending a text message to a defined phone number: the letter ‘x’ sets off an atomiser emanating a negative smell. Zersetzung is German for ‘corrosion’ or ‘dissolution’, and refers to a psychological technique employed by the Stasi – the East German secret police – who would infiltrate a victim’s day-to-day life, orchestrating repeated disappointments and socially alienating them by disrupting their relationships with others.
These shoes’ function, therefore, is intended to disconcert the wearer, who, unaware of the origin of smell, over time would become more self-conscious, prompting more restrained behaviour and a reduction in confidence.
Shoes: printed wedge with equine, goat and baby hair on calf. Mobile phone: Huawei model no. Y360-U31.








C H A P M A N


Benjamin John Hall-ladiesngents



Benjamin John Hall-ladiesngents



This knee-high boot has a recordable listening device embedded in its 3D-printed heel. It was inspired by a network of Russian sleeper agents, nicknamed The Illegals Program and caught in 2010, in particular one of its members – Anna Chapman – who gained notoriety for her lavish lifestyle and good looks. These boots can be dialled into by mobile phone from anywhere in the world to capture clear sound within a four-metre radius.
Printed heel with recording listening device. Baby hair on calf and Chateaubriand trim.








L A S T O C H K Y


Benjamin John Hall-ladiesngents



Benjamin John Hall-ladiesngents



Benjamin John Hall-ladiesngents



Lastochky, Russian for ‘swallows’, is a term commonly used to describe attractive young women used to seduce KGB targets. Often these women have lengthy affairs with men in positions of political influence, which enable them to obtain bargaining materials with which to blackmail their victims. These shoes disguise a DNA swab, concealed in the back tab of the heel, allowing the wearer to obtain, store and preserve samples of semen,
saliva or hair for future use in extortion.
Goat skin with baby hair on calf and equine trim, printed heel and DNA swab.








B E S P R E D E L



Benjamin John Hall-ladiesngents



Benjamin John Hall-ladiesngents



This classic men’s whole-cut’s most distinct design features are its scorpions tails, whilst the heel cup can be manipulated to fit personal data exploring modern notions of bespoke shoe making. Bespredel, a Ukrainian word that means ‘without limit’, describes a situation when someone in power — be it political, financial or criminal — does whatever he wants with complete impunity. Litvinenko’s alleged killer Andrey Lugovoy was made a Member of Parliament on his return to Russia, a status that grants parliamentary immunity from prosecution.
Printed heel cup with Chateaubriand leather. Reverse forcelasted
Bologna construction ©.








When designing and experimenting with a piece, do you ever picture the person who will wear your creation?
Would you like to get to know them personally, do you care who these people are?


No I only think about the concept and how it can manifest throughout the work. I might consider consumer profiling for more commercial work but for advanced projects the idea comes first, then the shoes, and then the wearer, if there is one!




benjaminjohnhall.com




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