P R O B L E M
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 also handmade in a very traditional manner, out of paper mache, cardboard, and wood, making them soften and wear out easily due to sweat and use, which can lead to injury and requires high amounts of money to buy new shoes frequently. In addition, it is difficult for dancers to monitor their health vitals because they are unable to wear accessories.
The Pointe Sock is a thin sock worn underneath 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. There is a heart rate monitor electrode located where there is a pulse on the foot, which can connect via Bluetooth to a mobile app that will allow for health monitoring.
The Pointe Sock decreases the risk of injury, increases the durability of the pointe shoe, increases comfort, and allows for health/fitness monitoring.
S O L U T I O N
W H Y ?
Having trained and danced at a pre-professional level, I have watched, up close, the injuries that ballet dancers sustain during training, not only on their feet but the rest of their body. I wanted to create a product that could increase the comfort of pointe shoes and allow for health/fitness monitoring while also increasing their durability.
P R O C E S S
DEFINING & IDEATING
I chose to innovate upon ballet pointe shoes because of my previous research in how pointe shoes are currently made and my experience as a user of them.
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.
california college of the arts: industrial design pre-college program
Given the prompt of designing a shoe, my CCA Industrial Design classmates and I began brainstorming problems and use-cases for shoes.
After finalizing my idea, I created this hand-sculpted clay prototype that was at about 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.
Referencing my clay prototype, I created these higher resolution orthogonal sketches that show the front, side and top views of the product. Being able to hold my 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.
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 carving tools to remove the foam that I didn't want. Only being able to remove material without being able to add it on was a challenge that I had to learn how to work with when carving.
FINAL PROTOTYPE + INFOGRAPHIC
Shown to the right is the final foam prototype of the Pointe Sock. Below that is the information poster that demonstrates the purpose and key value points of this product.