In the Spring 2014 ChattyFeet set a challenge for the Graphic Design and Multimedia students at ESAD.CR, an art and design school in Caldas da Rainha, Portugal. We asked this group of 60 talented students to develop four new characters for us and their enthusiasm for the project was clear, as students (and teachers!) began sketching at their drawing boards immediately.
The collaboration was a great way for students to develop new skills in illustration, moving away from the fully digital and commercial work they had been creating in the past, and include an element of humour in their designs. We wanted to show students that graphic design can be extended even the most varied of applications – such as our socks! – and help them gain experience of a project that humanizes products, injects the designer’s personality and engages customers.
We sent the students a pack of ChattyFeet socks so they could really understand the brand, and what better way to do this than by actually wearing them! Students brainstormed new ideas while walking around the classroom in wearing our sock characters and had fun coming up with suggestions for curious universes in which a range of heroes, divas, monsters, gluttons, nerds and Cyclops roamed free.
Teachers Miguel and Paulo helped the students learn about the product material and limitations of the design ‘canvas’. Students overcame the difficulties that object morphology posed in distorting the facial expressions of the characters and developed a whole host of witty designs. A weekly project presentation allowed students to discuss ideas, debate problems and come up with a collective solution over the course of a month.
The novelty aspect of the project enthused students and many told us that it was one of the best projects of the semester! The class even included some international students from Sweden and Brazil through the Erasmus programme, so we are proud of the truly international effort to design our new range!
In May 2014 we received 31 final submissions to review. After a lot of deliberation and careful consideration we chose the designs that we thought would best fit into the ChattyFeet family:We chose a ‘his & hers’ design inspired by rockabilly, named Danny and Sandy, which was created by Ana Cancela. They really made us laugh and we thought it would be fun to act out a musical while wearing these cool characters!
We also added two ‘artist socks’ designs to our collection named Feetasso and Andy Sock-Hole. They were designed by Monica Monteiro and inspired by famous artists – just imagine going to visit an exhibition wearing these socks – what a great idea!
It has been a really great experience for us to work with students and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing their interpretation of our brand. The collaboration has been successful for both us and the students: as a brand we got lots of creative minds working on the brief at the same time, coming up with loads of weird and wonderful suggestions, and the students gained experience of working on a commissioned brief for an existing brand and can see their creations being used by customers and stocked in stores –definitely portfolio-worthy, and a great feeling too!
ESAD was founded in 1990 and is celebrating its 25 year anniversary this year. Around 1400 students join ESAD every year to study creative courses such as Fine Art, Narrative Environments Design, Ceramics & Glass, Industrial Design, Graphic Design & Multimedia, Product Design, and Theatre, Sound & Image. With a modern architectural style, the university building is set in a forested area of pines, not far from the centre of Caldas da Rainha in Portugal and is the perfect setting for creative students to develop and grow.