pointe sock
Summer 2019
California College of the Arts
Industrial Design
Individual Project
problem
Dancers who wear pointe shoes often develop foot injuries and pain including tendinitis, cramping, and blisters in areas such as the ankle, the arch, and the toes.

Pointe shoes are handmade out of paper maché, cardboard, and wood, making them soften and wear out easily with  sweat and use, which can lead to injury and  high costs of replacement. In addition, dancers are discouraged from wearing accessories making it difficult to monitor any health related information.
solution
The Pointe Sock is a thin sock worn on feet under ballet tights. It has silicon gel supports behind the ankle to prevent achilles tendonitis, under the arch to prevent cramping, and over the toes to prevent overlap and blisters. The fabric of the sock is a sweat-absorbent mesh to increase the durability of the pointe shoe. An electrode to monitor heart rate is positioned strategically on the foot where pulse is best felt, which can then connect via Bluetooth to a mobile app.

The Pointe Sock decreases the risk of injury, increases the durability of the pointe shoe, increases comfort, and allows for health/fitness monitoring.
why
Having trained and danced at a pre-professional level, I have watched, up close, the blisters, injuries that ballet dancers sustain during training, not only on their feet but the rest of their body, affecting their ability to enjoy movement and dance for a long time. I wanted to reduce the pain associated with injuries, increase wellness and joy associated with dance and movement.
process
1.

brainstorming
Given the prompt of designing a shoe, my Industrial Design classmates and I began brainstorming problems and use-cases for shoes.
2.

DEFINING & IDEATING
I chose to innovate upon ballet pointe shoes because of my experience as a user and having explored the makings of my shoe, out of curiosity. Thinking about the current pointe shoe, I thought about the issues I have encountered with them as well as those that I have observed other dancers experience.​ I began ideating solutions to these problems by visually sketching out some ideas.
3.

CLAY PROTOTYPE
After finalizing my idea, I created a hand-sculpted clay prototype that was ~40% scale of the actual size. The malleability of the clay enabled me to play around with different components and see how they would look and act in 3 dimensions. ​In order to give the prototype the feel of being on a real foot, I paid attention to the creases and indents of a real foot in the pointed position and textured the clay using the grip of a sculpting tool.
4.

orthogonal sketches
Referencing the clay prototype, I created higher resolution orthogonal sketches that show the front, side and top views of the product. Being able to hold the clay prototype and observe it at a certain angle helped to visualize how this very organic shape and unstructured object would look and behave at those angles.
5.

FOAM PROTOTYPE
As a higher resolution prototype, I carved the Pointe Sock on a foot, out of foam. I traced the outlines of the orthogonal sketches ​above and used the band saw to cut down the major chunks of foam.

I then used hand-carving tools to remove the foam that I didn't want. Only being able to remove material and not being able to add to it during carving I learned is a challenge.
6.

infographic
I created an informational poster that demonstrates the purpose and key value points of this product.