Sailing into the Dark
Updated: Sep 9, 2019
Each designer has their own story to tell. Shoe designer Meta Cunder's story is for the brave souls, as the theme of her work is animalistic, dark and mysterious, inspired by those monstrous myths which lurked in our childhood nightmares and made us shiver.
Working out a modern resemblance of those mythological creatures requires an analysis of the exact elements which are pulling the strings of nerves of the audience. Meta Cunder's work has captured the fundamentals of those frightening components and has depicted them in detail. They may stir some vivid imaginations, such as being swallowed by a giant monster and living in its mouth with enormous teeth and a swinging tongue, or being stared at by a creature with thousands of eyes.
What is more frightening is that these ideas are not mere fantasies, but a reality we are sailing into -- an era of Leviathan, a realisation of Thomas Hobbes' concerns on society structure. Now this creature is evolving into a form having millions of eyes -- intelligent surveillance cameras on streets -- those meandering arms of Leviathan.
Zooming out to a bigger picture, the Leviathan is merely hovering on a tiny island floating in an infinitely vast dark sea of the universe, where 96% of it is unknown (consisting of dark matter and dark energy).
But don't panic, as there are enough chores which can distract us from worrying about it.
Contemporary Shoe Designer
What is the idea behind Chimera?
When you look at the shoe for the first time, it is not quite clear where the foot is…or how you would put the shoe on. I like the reaction this shoe evokes, especially because it is at the end of the day -- completely wearable and comfortable. It has a row of 3D printed white teeth, based on those of a lion. The gums, the tongue and the mouth are all made of patent leather to give it a wet effect – if you look at the inside of the shoe you can even see the texture of the roof of the mouth – just like a real animal. The essence of the shoe can be seen though its silhouette, which is pushed to the extreme, making the foot inside almost unrecognisable/hidden…but the shoe would not be the same without the many details making it look as realistic and life-like as possible.
“the blinking boot”
How is Leviathan created?
I had a general idea for this boot from the beginning – huge, thigh high, with eyes all over. When the project started, I went for it right away and ordered a 1000 blinking eyes, normally used in production of baby dolls. They blink when you move them and are durable enough to put on shoes. Because of technical limitations I couldn’t put the eyes everywhere (people need to bend their knees and sit down sometimes), but I managed to get nearly a 100 on each shoe. The eyes blink when the person walks and produce a very satisfying sound if you gently run your hand over them. The boots were created for my muse, a London based non-binary drag performer Rodent and were gifted to them at the end of a project."
Could you tell us a bit more about Rodent and their performance, and which aspects of their art do you appreciate most?
I first saw Rodent when they were modelling in Ben Mak's fashion show. I was struck by their unique appearance and presentation - even though we had makeup artists on-site they chose to do their makeup themselves and stood out in the show itself. I should also mention that they are over 6ft tall and not afraid to put on some platform heels, so I was immediately drawn to their extraordinary height and confidence. Later on, I followed them on Instagram and learned that their drag name Rodent has a real connection with the animalistic, dark and mysterious...all elements that define the Varmint brand.
What I most appreciate about their performance is the look itself. The unique makeup and an overall fluid expression of gender feel really contemporary while the darker undertones and animalistic details fit really well with my inspiration for the brand. In an interview I had with them they described themselves as an androgynous feral witch, which I feel sums them up really well.
Interview with the Designer
Tell us a bit about your background?
I am originally from Slovenia and have moved to London after I finished high school to study shoe design. I completed 4 years at the London College of Fashion which included a year out in the industry as a part of my course.
*Meta has graduated from the BA Cordwainers Footwear with 1st class honours. She is the winner of the Cordwainers Cup of excellence in Footwear as well as the recipient of Cordwainers National student of the Year Award.
How did you get interested in fashion design and shoe design in particular?
I was always interested in art and I loved drawing. During high school the love for art organically transformed into fashion as another form of artistic expression. I took some sewing classes but tended to gravitate more towards special and eye-catching footwear – rather than clothes. What I think attracted me to shoes in particular was their way in which they transformed my posture and mood.
What are the most important things you learned at London College of Fashion?
Apart from obviously learning about shoe-making and shoe design I also learned the importance of having a supportive network. Knowing who to turn to for help or advice, be it professional or personal has been a really important aspect of my studies.
What are the challenges in your creative process?
I think that the creation process is never really done or complete. As the designer you just have to decide when to stop. I think stopping myself and evaluating my work has been one of the hardest things. You can produce a lot of amazing work but editing it down and picking only the best bits that fit together perfectly at the end has been something I have struggled with and keep on improving with each project.
How do you develop ideas for your work?
The development of ideas really depends on the project itself. With industry projects you tend to keep the brand and consumer you are designing for in front of you at all times as the type of design they require might not be your specialty. But for the project in the final year – a more personal project, the development of ideas came directly from imagination and my wishes and wants for the brand. In the initial stages I sketched out a lot of different shoe characters, new shapes and sought references in the mythological and animal world. And later, the design ideas were led by the materials and processes that would enable me to make the shoes a reality.
What is the identity of your design? Is there a particular style you are most interested in developing?
I think the identity of my design is something that stands out. I am not interested in producing a version of something that already exists. I am most passionate about creating new things, new silhouettes…items that really challenge the category they are put in. Is this still a shoe? Is it a creature…a sculpture? A cheesy as it sounds, I wasn’t to create things that have not been done before. As a result, my designs tend to end up as showstopper pieces, something that draws attention. My particular style of shoe does not go down the street quietly.
What are the areas you would like to explore in your future projects?
I want to expand my concept of ‘creature shoes’. I would love to collaborate with a robotics company to make my shoes move, blink and interact with the environment. I think there is a lot of potential in wearable technology for both practical and aesthetic purposes.
2019 BA Hons Cordwainers Footwear: Product Design and Innovation
2018 Diploma in Professional Studies – Internship at Special Footwear
2019.06 Winner - Cordwainers National Student of the Year Award
2019.06 Winner - Cordwainers Cup of Excellence in Footwear
2019.06 Finalist - Dato’ Jimmy Choo BA Award
2019.01 Finalist - SATRA design award
2019.08 Shoes for Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK – collaboration with Ben Mak London for The Vivienne
2017.06 Winner of Nicholas Kirkwood x LCF design competition
2017.03 Finalist of Clarks Originals x LCF design competition