Disha Vaid

In Conversation With: Disha Vaid

May 1, 2021

Global Footwear Awards Category winner Disha Vaid discussed VERTICO 2.O FUTURE FRAGMENT , 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. VERTICO 2.O FUTURE FRAGMENT was awarded the best in specific sports category for student level.

VERTICO 2.O FUTURE FRAGMENT is a rock climbing shoe designed for athlete ADAM ONDRA for his TOKYO 2021 Olympics debut in sport climbing.Which originally I conceptualised in 2019 inspired by his hardest climb CHANGE . We are living in unprecedented times & normal rules no longer apply.With the entire world looking at Olympics as a beacon of hope,served as a creative trigger to upcycle my design not only to enhance the performance of the athlete but also as a symbol of optimism , solidarity & unity in all of our diversity. Vertico 2.0 is based on the concept of circularity design-PDF for details.


GFA talks with Disha about her background and  her winning project.

What is your background?

I am an aspiring footwear designer . currently based in Mumbai , India . Somewhere between dissecting earthworms & drawing microscopic views I discovered my passion for design & I transitioned my career from being an aspiring doctor to an accidental designer . Growing Up In India with A Culturally Diverse & Eco Conscious Environment where Sustainable & Environmentally Friendly Practices Still Continue To Be The Core Component Of Our Lifestyle & Culture , Has Definitely Shaped My Creative Vision as a footwear designer . My work in art , apparel & footwear has received various recognition & awards which serves as an encouragement . In the future I would like to work in a leading sneaker brand’s innovation lab.


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

Strengths Of Both My Winning Projects Are That They Are Not Only Focussed On Innovative Solutions To  Enhance The Performance Of My Consumer But Also On Sustainability , Ethical Practices And Social Impact .  My Design Philosophy Is Based On My Believe That Sports Is A Common Sentiment Across Cultures ,Races And  Continents And As A Conscious And Responsible Designer I Have Taken That As An Opportunity And Tried To  Accomplish With These Projects Not Only Technologically Advanced Shoes But Also Tried To Disrupt The Social And  Cultural Barriers , By Combining The Best Of Both Eastern And Western Worlds.  


What does this award mean to you personally? 

It Is Hard To Put My Feelings Into Words . The Award Has Strengthened My Believe In My Design Thinking  Process Of Becoming More Conscious Of Social Impact And Humanitarian Needs Around The World, As Well As  Exploring The Idea Of Empathetic And Intuitive Designs . ReceivIng Recognition On A Global Platform That Too  Across Three Categories Has Definitely Motivated Me Further To Work Harder.


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

The Most Important Aspect For Me Was Minding My Beginnings And Endings . Designing For A Casue Which Was  To Enhance The Performance Of My Consumer While Being Mindful Of The Unintended Consequences . The Biggest  Challenge For Me Was To Make A Better Shoe By Using Sustainable Materials Without Compromising On The  Performance Of A World Class Athlete For His Olympics Debut . I Think I Was Able To Present My Idea In A  Seamless Fashion And It Resonated With The Jury Members.


What is your guiding design principle? 

The Principle Which Acts As A Compass For Me Is To Make A User Friendly Product , With An Awareness Of The  Potential Long-Term & Unintended Consequence On Our Environment In The Future.


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

My Passion And My Hunger To Learn Keeps Me Motivated. Inspiration Can Have Different Meanings For Different People. If You Ask Me Personally I Have A Great Influence Of  My Culture On My Designs In Terms Of Colors And Aesthetics . I Believe Culture Is A Very Powerful Thing That  Influences Us Much More Than We Often Realise .What Is Best In My Culture That I Can Translate Into My Design  And Make A Globally Relevant Product , Serves As An Inspiration . Besides This I Love To Travel And What Best I  Observe In Different Cultures/Customs And People Around The World I Try And Translate That Into My Designs.


How/when did you discover that you wanted to work in design? 

I Became A Designer By Accident . I Was Studying To Be A Doctor Because That Is A Stable And Lucrative  Career Option In My Country .  

But I Kind Of Lost Interest In Dissecting Earthworms , Rabbits And Frogs While Preparing To Get Into The Top Med  Schools , They All Died By The Way , Because I Could Never Stitch Them Back Properly . I’ts Then When I Realised I Dont Want To Be A Doctor .  

However , I Was Good In Making Detailed Microscopic Diagrams And I Could Make Them For Hours Without  Getting Bored . I Thought Why Not Try Something In Fine Arts Or Fashion . So I Got A Degree In Design And Thats  How My Journey Began As A Designer . It Was A Calling , Designing Was Something Which Came To Me Naturally  And Instinctively. 


How do you think your own culture and environment has shaped your personal and professional creative vision? 

Designing Is More Of A Visual Thing , And One’s Culture Shapes The Way Our Brain Processes The Visual  Information . India Has Long Been Associated With Colours Because Of Its Festivals, Costumes And Food. There Is Detailing In Traditional Art And Handicrafts . Sustainable And Environmentally Friendly Practices And  Psyches Still Continue To Be Core Component Of Our Lifestyle And Culture , Long Before It Was Talked About In  The West . Yoga And Ayurveda Are Perhaps Among The Most Well-Known Ways Of Conscious And Holistic Living. I  Have Grown Up In A Culturally Diverse And Eco Concious Environment Which Has Definitely Shaped My Creative  Vision.


Tell us about a project which has been your greatest achievement? 

My Greatest Achievement Would Be Brand Sponsored Project By Jordan Which I Did While Studying At Pensole  In Portland .  

The Project – Redefining The Jordan Woman , Was Overseen By Former Design Directors Of Brand Jordan & Nike,  D’wayne Edwards , Angela Madeline & Suzette Henry . The Final Presentation Was Held In The Presence Of Industry  People From Nike World Head Quarters, Adidas World Head Quarters , Jordan , Converse ,Wild Fang ,Cross Colors  & Bemis. Jordan Is The Most Idealised Sneaker Brand In The World And It Was A Great Opportunity For Me To Work With 4  Other Culturally Diverse Women From Different Countries . We Combined Our Best Creative Knowledge , Worked  Together As A Team And Made A Cohesive Presentation Which Was Applauded By All .It Was Not Only A Good  Learning Experience But Also It Shaped My Vision As A Designer.


Which Designer In Footwear Industry Do You Most Admire And Why? 

Tinker Hatfield Undoubtedly Is Someone I Look Upto . He Is Not A Creator But A Disruptor . He Has Always Tried  To Challenge The Design Standards – Be It Making Technology Visible In The Iconic Air Max 1 , Or The Iconic  Elephant Print And Jumpman Logo On Jordan 3’S ,To Designing Mid Basketball Sneakers And E.A.R.L . One Thing I Learnt From Him Is That If You Have Even The Wildest Idea And You Truly Believe In It You Should Work  On It Till You Get It Right . Nike Hyperadapt 1.0 Is The Biggest Example Of That .  


How do you feel footwear design has evolved over the past years and how do you see it evolving in the future? 

Its Interesting To See How Footwear Design Has Evolved From Being Just A Functional Product , Into A  Fashion And Lifestyle Product And Then A Combination Of Both Functionality And Fashion . We Have Seen The Designs Evolve In Terms Of Use Of Technology And Sustainable Practices . Over Past Few Decades. There Was A Focus On DesignIng With Transparency, Ethics And Social Conscience Than  Just Performance. 

Going Forward Design Thinking In The Footwear Industry Will Take On A New Sense Of Purpose . Rewriting The  Codes Of Creativity , Advances In Science And Materials Will Make It Possible To Re-Engineer And Use DNA And  Micro-Organisms To Solve The Macro Problems Of Tomorrows Consumers Through Designs.


What would be your dream design project? 

To Lead A Design Project For Air Jordan Like Tinker Hatfield And Dr. D’wayne Edwards.


What’s your creative process and what creative software do you use? 

To Design A Shoe You Have To Put Yourself In Someone Else’s Shoes. I Always Start With Research On My Consumer And The Brand I Am Designing For . Study The Market What Is The  Latest Innovation Done By The Competition Brands In The Similar Category ,The Problems In The Existing Products  And What Innovative Solutions I Can Provide To Make It Better . Then Comes Ideation And Refining The Design  Stage . I Prefer To Do Hand Sketches And Fine Tune My Design Digitally In Illustrator And Photoshop.


What kind of questions do you ask before beginning a shoe design ? What piece of information is of utmost  value? 

What Do I Wish To Accomplish Through My Design ? Because It Influences How My Consumer Will Respond To  The End Product . How Can I Make A Product Which Is Instinctive And Should Simplify And Enhance My Consumers  Performance . The Most Valuable Information Is About My Consumer’s Feet.


What kind of culture or structure needs to exist to foster successful team collaboration?  

Footwear Brands Need To Understand That The Post Pandemic Stage Will See The Emergence Of A New  Conscious Consumer , Wanting To Overcome Self Created Social And Racial Barriers And To Reconnect , Awaken  And Nurture The Spirit Of Humanity , And Teams Or Brands Supporting This Thought And A Diverse And Inclusive  Structural Format Will Not Only Foster A Successful Team Collaboration But Also Will Increase Their Impact On Their  Consumers . Most Brands Talk About Diversity And Inclusivity But It Is So Far Only Seen In Advertisements . Its Time  For Global Footwear Brands Like Nike , Adidas And Others To Change The Narrative And Diversify The Design  Teams And Give An Opportunity To Talented Designers From Other Countries Too. If Not Them Then Who !


How do you deal with feedback? 

As Designers We Are Bound To Get Feedback Whether We Ask For It Or Not . It Might Not Be Always A Glowing  Compliment . For Me It Is Very Important To Recognise The Good Intention Behind A Feedback As It Is The Key To  Producing Great Work . Like Ken Blanchard Says “ Feedback Is The Breakfast Of Champions.” 


What are you working on now, what is in the pipeline for you? 

I Train Upcoming Sneaker Designers And I Keep Myself Engaged By Doing New Projects For My Portfolio . I Am  Currently Open To Opportunities In The Sneaker Industry.


How has the pandemic affected your work and design process? 

I Think Pandemic Did Effect Everyone In Some Or The Other Way . It’s Difficult For A Creative Person To Create  When In Confinement But Then One Has To Learn To Adapt . I Kept My Brain Charged By Meditating And Doing  Yoga. I Was Staying Focussed By Keeping Myself Occupied By Doing My Creative Consultancy And Getting  Involved With A Friends Sneaker Business . Although I Wasn’t Getting Paid For It . But I Took It As An Opportunity To  Polish My Skills.


How do you feel about the topic of sustainability in regards to footwear design in general? 

The Footwear Industry Produces 23.5 Billion Pairs Of Shoes Annually For 7.6 Billion People In The World . Most  Of Which Doesn’t Have A Clear Circular Cycle . One Can Only Imagine The Amount Of Environmental Waste It  Contributes To .I Believe As Footwear Designers We Have The Moral And Ethical Obligation To Infuse Sustainability  In Our Designs And Be Aware Of The Environmental Impacts Of Our Work . For Us Designer’s It’s Not An Obligation  But A Power Which We Should Use Wisely To Reshape The Future World.


What would you tell your younger self seeing you winning the awards?

“ Thank You ! For Not Giving Up . Failing A Thousand Times , Believing In Yourself And Trying Again . This Award  Is Dedicated To You .” 


What is your design mantra you live by? 

Imagine Limitless , Believe And Make It Happen.


With so many designs coming out daily, how do you keep pushing boundaries in footwear deign? 

As A Designer Its Always My Effort To Allign The Modern Day Design Process And Technology With Ancient  Values And Give The Consumer A Reason To Connect With The Product At A Deeper Level . To Push Boundaries It  Is Important To Know What Has Come Before So We Can Have Foresight To Imagine What Will Take Us Forward  And Make Our Design Click With The Future Consumers. 


Where do you start when tackling innovative design solutions? 

I Have A Very Hollistic And Human – Centric Approach To Finding An Innovative Design Solutions . My Focus Is  Not Only On Improving The Performance And Comfort Through My Design But Majorly On How My Design Can  Influence The Mental Wellbeing Of My Consumer . I Am Always Researching On Innovations In Materials And  Technology To Find An Intersection Between Physical Form And Human Consciousness . As The Future Of  Performance Products Is How Our DNA Responds To The External Environment .We Will Use DNA And Micro Organisms To Solve The Macro Problems Of Tomorrow.


What advice would you give to future aspiring footwear designers? 

 If You Believe Your Idea Has A Potential Try To Work On It Every Single Day . Make It Better Till You Get It Right .  Be Consistent And Push Your Own Boundaries.


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

In The Post Pandemic World Consumer Will Be Looking For A Meaning Full And Inspiring Brand Philosophy And  Not Just A Hyped Beautiful Pair Of Shoes . Footwear Brands Which Will Champion The Purpose Of Integrating  Human Needs For Touch And Physicality In A World Of Invisible Tech By Finding A Balance Between The Two Will  Increase Their Impact With The Future Generations.


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

Very Strong Women’s Sneaker Line Across Brands Which Even Men Want In Their Sizes . That Would Be A  Change In The Narrative.


How do you handle pressure in design? 

Tensions Are Always High On ANy Design Project . I Divide My Time Equally And Focus On Each Step Of The  Process At A Time -Product And Consumer Research , Problem , Solution And Then The Design .Which Helps Me In  Finishing My Work On Time . I Also Involve In Team Discussions For Constructive Inputs Time To Time.


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

A Purely Techno-Centric View Of Innovation As Far As Footwear Design Is Concerned Is Less Sustainable.  Footwear Industry Should Focus On Intimately Blending More Sustainable Natural Resources And Technology . We Need Products That Balance The Needs Of Consumer Who WantS SMart Products That Improve’s Performance  And Augment Their Lifestyle , At The Same Time Have A Sense Of Purpose To Be Environmentally And Socially  Responsible.