Chiyang Duan

In Conversation With: Chiyang Duan

May 1, 2021

Global Footwear Awards Category winner Chiyang Duan discussed mutualism, GFA 2020 winning design.

Making its debut on the international design stage, Global Footwear Awards (GFA) has begun its global search to identify the most innovative design in footwear. mutualism was awarded the best in special category for pro level.

Chiyang’s Background.

Fashion /Accessories/jewellery/Architecture

Chiyang duan is a jewellery maker, accessory and fashion designer. He graduated from BCU school of jewellery in 2019, and continue studying Fashion and accessories design in Royal College of Art till now.


GFA talks with Chiyang Duan about his winning project.

Tell us about your project?

mutualism  : The coexistence of plants and rocks inspired me a new possibilities for sustainability which is mutualism.
I did research on how human walk on soil ,the sole directly touch the soil and part of it will sink in to the soil.
Then I explored a new mixed material that mixed grass seeds with silicon and cement which include nutrients,When it’s stressed and deformed , seeds and cement will fall out,after that,seeds still sprout. I developed it into shoes cover which can be worn over by any type of shoes,When the user wears it and walking on mud, it can easily spread plants seeds at same time.


What do you see as the strengths of your winning project?

My project is reflecting on how to allow the wearer to truly participate in the protection of the environment, and interact with the design project.


What was most important for you when working on this project and what were the biggest challenges you faced?

Let footwear not only be a pair of shoes that can be worn, but also an object that can produce interaction. Thinking about new ways of wearing and innovative forms is the most difficult part.


Where do you get motivation and inspiration from for your work?

Seeing the plants growing out of the cracks in the wall, it showed strong vitality.


What do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities in your career and the industry now?

footwear design is not only beautiful and form innovation, but can also be functional and playable.


How do you deal with feedback?

Positive feed are inspiring, but bad restrict feedback make progress.


What advice would you give to future aspiring footwear designers?

stop just play with form,think and design in different perspective.


What do you wish to see more of in the footwear industries?

People from backgrounds bring different design method.


How do you handle pressure in design?

Appreciating and observing great work by other designers that encourages me to keep working.


How do you feel about the impact of new technology towards footwear design and the industry as a whole?

New technologies such as 3d printing help designers to work efficiently, and the diversity and possibilities of the industry give footwear designer more development directions


What do you think will keep pushing the footwear industries forward?

3D printing, Diversity, inclusiveness.