Nida Gonul

With a Twist

Nida Gonul is a MA Footwear graduated. After her studies in San Mauro Pascoli, she worked with a design studio in Italy and a hand-made atelier in Turkey, both experiences gave her the ability to focus on the appeal of the final product for the final audience throughout all processes.  Her recent collaboration with  Stella McCartney as finalist of Kering Award, has given Nida the opportunity to explore and create new applications of leather alternatives for footwear production. She has expanded her understanding of sustainability. Now she looks deeper into origins and current uses of materials, processes and how they can be imagined and utilized in new ways.

With A Twist’ focuses on reimagining contemporary luxury footwear construction and components through employing ‘Zembil’, a basketry technique from Turkey for making as well as sustainable, innovative materials such as the bacteria spun tissue cellulose, Kombucha leather  and %100 Bio-degradable man-made leather from Turkey, as well as recycled bicycle inner tubes to create the collection.

Each shoe is a single unit construction, made with a continuous weave wrapped on one continuous base, combining the upper and the sole together in one unit. The method was chosen to explore how transfer of heritage methods from one field to another can innovate and contribute to footwear design.

What means sustainable fashion for you? and how is a sustainable shoe created?

The concept is multi faceted to say the least, and there are so many factors from workplace conditions to environmentally friendly processes to animal welfare. One of  issues that I have looked into specifically was finding materials that do not compromise on appeal and ease of working but are also environmentally and animal friendly in terms of their production methods and afterlife. Our little objects of desire have so many components going into them- and so much room for progress in many .

As part of my MA collection, I tried to rethink each part and the way  it was coming together with others that I possibly could, to introduce an alternative method. I came across basketry in an off-hand way during a random search for materials and ways ‘making’ things. It was not something that I had in mind at the outset, but when I started working with it, I saw that it was actually working.

– How did arises your interest to the craft and traditional work?

As I mentioned, I came across Zembil completely randomly. I was actually looking at plant fibres, among them cornhusk, a residue from farming. It was during this research that I came across a short video featuring a local artisan, Nuran Güngör. There was a very brief close up of her working, and while watching it, I realized this was something that could very well transfer into footwear. I had to completely self teach based on that short sequence, which was a struggle initially. It was very diffferent from pattern cutting or doing mock-ups, and I had no background in weaving to speak of. When I finally mastered the weaving technique, I started to really enjoy the theraupatic quality to it, and the fact that I could work almost anywhere, anytime – this meant I was not bound by the access hours to a workshop.

– What is the essence of traditional Turkish basket weaving?

There are many methods from different regions, using a vast spectrum of materials. The one that I worked  with is called Zembil and it originates from Bafra, a town in North of Turkey. As per my interview with local artisan Nuran Güngör, it is dated back to some 250 years ago. The process they use to make the baskets is very sustainable, every component is grown naturally, or is a side product of the farming industry. I actually started to occasionally weave for recreation after completing my collection- maybe it was addictive afterall.