words & images // Brian Moughty
4Cent Friday is a weekly design blog on SoleCollector.com written by a member of the 4Cent Design team. Subjects may range from discussing rendering skills to design inspirations, to thoughts and opinions on the state of footwear design as a whole. For more background on 4Cent Design, check our interview here.
As a designer, you continuously want to bring something new to the table and look for change and originality. For this project, I wanted to create a shoe based off something I hadn't seen befor -- a song.
Since "Watch the Throne" was one of the biggest releases in a while, it seemed like just the right album to take inspiration from. It was also intriguing that this project involved two Hip-Hop heavyweights who have each had footwear and fashion influence in the past, as well as their own shoes.
I picked a popular song from Watch the Throne, which was "*&^%$# In Paris." I then broke the song into three parts:
I felt this was a easy way to focus in on certain parts of the song to develop it into a shoe.
Starting with the beat, there's a very powerful bass in the song. Since it is the bottom layer of the beat, I made this the bottom layer of the shoe and took cues from it to design the midsole and outsole structure. This is the eye catcher of the shoe and needs to be powerful to mimic the bass. The shapes are also inspired by the album cover, with bent triangles that actually protrude off the shoe. They're much more visible from the toe down and sole. This goes along with the idea of Kanye and Jay-Z breaking rules of society and fashion.
There is no law that an outsole must wrap smoothly around the foot, so it gives it a more fierce and aggressive feel, like the artist, artwork and beat. The beat also has one dominant repetitive sound in it. The dinging noises are represented on the upper through diamond perfs, and the pattern mirrors the same way the noise occurs in the beat, starting from the toe to the heel. Diamonds, of course, also happen to represent the hand symbol that Jay-Z and Kanye are known for throwing up to represent their label. Towards the end of the song, the beat drastically changes with heavy distortion. This is represented towards the heel of the shoe, with a static or "distortion-inspired" pattern lasered onto the heel.
The next influence on the shoe were the lyrics from "*&%^$# In Paris." First off, the song contains two Will Ferrell voiceovers from the movie "Blades Of Glory." The first incorporates the actor saying "One song, and one song only," but in this case the limited edition 4 Cent X WTT shoes would in theory be "1,000 pairs, and 1,000 pairs only." His other interlude is "No one knows what it means, but it's provocative."
I really focused on the word "provocative" here, and that is another reason I wanted the midsole to have a big impact, with its unusual twist. The silhouette follows the traditional shape of a basketball shoe, since the chorus includes Jay-Z saying "Ball so Hard." Seems straightforward enough. I tweaked it some to make it more casual, but the general feel is classic basketball. The two rapper's "bars" are shown through the embossed panels on the shoe. Also, the actual title of the song contains the word "Paris," which led me to high end fashion. This would be a high end shoe with premium leathers and tailored construction, like the two leather pieces that come up the toe and cross above the laces, finished with diamond cut-outs. An inner designer tag is also featured inside the heel to give it a specialty feel.
The final piece to the song is the artists who are responsible for it. The two rappers may be friends and business partners, but both have very different personalities and fashion tastes. The provocative midsole is more Kanye, while the more conservative shape is Jay-Z. The unique color combo is connected to Kanye, but red was added to keep it more sporty like Jay-Z. The separated heel at the Achilles isn't big enough to change the whole shape, but is something different to add to Kanye's taste. The two lines previously mentioned that come across the top of the toe and interlock above the laces, are meant to represent the two artists coming together. They feed off of each other throughout the song, and it is important that the shoe has individual pieces that in the end complement each other to make for a complete package.
In the end, this was just a fun and quick exercise to create a twist on what a shoe could normally derived from. Instead of an athlete, a building or a car, this shoe happened to be inspired by a single song.
Look out for more entries every Friday from my fellow 4Cent Design members, and be sure to check out our site 4CentDesign.com and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. If there are any speciifc topics you'd like us to discuss, please leave some suggestions in the comments section.