Project Walkway – eight girls hack their shoes

Project_Walkway.jpgGirls of all ages are fascinated by shoes. There can never ever be enough shoes in the closet. Every occasion needs the perfect matching footwear.

What do we get if girls take electronics and upgrade their shoes? – Project Walkway where eight teenage girls learned to mix technology with fashion.

Project Walkway spanned 6 weeks starting in March and ending in a walkway show in May during the book launch of Sabine Seymour’s Fashionable Technology at Eyebeam.

Project Walkway, a collaboration between artist Norene Leddy, New York City public high school Bayard Rustin Academy for Art and Music, and Eyebeam was a creative getting together in which young women transformed existing footwear and some smart electronics into objects of desire.

The aim of the workshop was to teack prototyping skills, basic electronics and presentation skills. The girls had the opportunity to work alongside two of Eyebeam’s current Research & Development Fellows, Ayah Bdeir and Jessica Banks, highly skilled female engineers whose work as artists and designers made a perfect skill match with the workshops objective.


The extensive workshop started with an introduction about the history of shoes which have always been closely linked with identity and social status, key issues for adolescent girls, from the Chopines of 16th century Venice, to Manolo Blahnik stilettos up to Chloe, Gucci and D&G.

The Aphrodite Project from Norene Leddy served as the starting point for the shoe hacking workshop: ‘Platforms, which open the conversation to issues of sex, sex work, the role of contemporary artists in society, police protection and personal safety’.


The focus for the students was less on aesthetics but to investigate issues of personal safety and utility: what would be helpful for young women today who navigate the streets of New York City (and other major cities around the world).

The result of the platform hacking workshop is amazingly creative: light seems to be a natural attraction point for any clothing item. Where conventional fashion uses materials like metal parts, glass beads and other shiny objects to reflect light and add some glitter, wearable technology designer use LEDs to create active light effects to add sparkle to their designs. Addressing the safety aspect, small alarm modules have been incorporated into the heel giving an additional dimension of security in our not so secure cities.

Visit Project Walkway’s photostream on Flickr for more photos, Project Walkway’s blog with all the details and video links and a podcast by Science & the City.

Thanks Alana for pointing us to this project.


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