Filling Pieces introduced leather into SALLIERES
"Inspiration can come from anywhere — whether you are walking around an open market in the south of France or examining the texture of a bug."
In his early grad years, the emerging French designer MARTIN SALLIERES had a thing for cars. Until he realized that automotive and footwear design were very similar in their sketching approach, and the craftsmanship behind footwear was quicker & more versatile with fewer boundaries — which allowed him to play with contrasting materials & infinite color combos.
And so it began. He started to experiment with different technologies, working in a patient & inventive way, until accomplishing his goal of bringing fascination back to sneakers. He dove so deep that he became a fan of footwear no matter what the hype du jour was. That’s why, even now — having a key role in a brand like Filling Pieces — Sallieres keeps pushing the envelope when it comes to design.
He also talked about his relationship with leather, claiming it is brand new — but if you ask us, he pulls it off like they’re long time BFs. What attracts him the most to this material is its lack of limits. I mean, what creative mind wouldn’t like a material that goes from the deepest of blues to the most neon of yellows? When he starts to gush about leather’s never-ending techniques, tho, that's when you see the love is real.
Lucky for us, after mastering the art of leather sneakers he’s ready to take on other challenges. Can you imagine how this guy’s loafers, heels, or boots would be?
We chatted with him about his past, present & future in this Q&A, and he gets more interesting by the second. Scroll down & catch it all. 🏄
Having your kind of aptitude for design gives you a lot of career possibilities, why did you choose to work in the footwear field?
My first interest within the field was car design. I was obsessed with being a car designer; I knew every model of every brand and every tiny little design update they made. When I started to study design I was really looking forward to learning all of this, but all of a sudden I was surrounded by other students and all of their different dreams (mostly not related to cars). So, I started to open up to more options and it was actually quite late when I dove into the footwear field. Even though I was always into sneakers, I never really thought of designing them myself. Then my girlfriend asked me, “why don’t you design shoes?” and it hit me: drawing shoes is very similar to drawing cars. The materiality aspect in shoe design is actually much more interesting — there are fewer boundaries, it is more playful, more colorful, and the process is much faster. I started to focus all my attention on footwear and got really nice feedback from my surroundings, so I started to feel more and more comfortable with being a footwear designer.
How did your relationship with sneaker culture start off? What inspired you the most about it?
I like sneakers, but I wouldn’t consider myself a sneakerhead. I like shoes for their aesthetic regardless of the hype around them. What is inspiring, though, is the community behind the shoe industry, especially on Instagram; a lot of people want to become footwear designers, and — even though there are not so many spots within the industry — everybody is considerate of each other and helps out with tips, advice, and connections.
In your personal projects, you work with high-tech devices to produce avant-garde looking sneakers. Could you describe Shoelab to us & how it represents your goal as a designer?
Shoelab started off when I bought a 3D doodler at an electronics store, thinking that I might use it someday. That same night, I started to doodle on a shoe last that I had on my desk. The outcome was visually interesting to me; I liked the openness of the structure, the rough aspects of the lines, and the beauty in the randomness of the construction. The issue was that it was not wearable, the first prototype was made in PLA and would break instantly if I tried to put it on. I spent the next seven months trying to translate it into a flexible material.
I developed a weaving technique in which I wove straight on the shoe last with PU threads. When heat is applied the threads fuse to each other and the 3D structure remains intact. It was an open-ended process and I didn’t really know which direction it was going, because each step determined what I would do next. The final result was a sneaker made from one single material. Comparable to a concept car, actually, the idea is to fascinate and make the audience wonder.
Do you think this constant innovation & playing with technology is what makes footwear design such a growing industry right now? Tell us about your experience.
The amount of footwear brands on the market is growing considerably. Every day, new brands arrive with more or less (quite often less) original ideas and products. The amount of fakes and copycats is pushing the industry’s leaders to invest in new technologies, create new materials, and come up with different aesthetics faster and faster.
Nowadays you collaborate with Filling Pieces, one of the coolest sneakers labels of this generation. How did this collab happen?
My first day at Filling Pieces was exactly one year after I drew my first shoe. Michael Lennheden (Head of Footwear Design at FP) and I had a friend in common and he arranged a small meet up. I asked Michael questions about the brand and how it is to work as a footwear designer. It was also an occasion for him to see if I could be a good match for his team. Six months later, I received a design task from FP: “design 3 silhouettes for the new collection.” I spent two weeks drawing non-stop; rendering and even 3D modeling the ideas I had in mind for the brand. One month after I was invited into the team!
When it comes to street style, the spotlight is on inventive shoes & sneakers like the ones you create with Filling Pieces. What trends & designs can we expect next?
The craze of sneakers is slowing down a bit. Even though you still see trainers in the streets, the trends are going more towards formal and classic leather footwear, like heels, boots, loafers, derbies, mules. Something rather new to me, but exploring this world is really exciting.
You work a lot with leather & suede. What’s your relationship with these materials? How do they affect the sneakers' aesthetics & quality in your opinion?
Before getting into this industry, I knew nothing about leather. At FP, it is the material that we use the most throughout the collections, so I had to get acquainted with it quite quickly. What is fascinating about this material is its endless possibilities. You are not limited by colors — anything from the deepest truest blue to neon yellow is possible. The number of techniques you can apply to it are incredible as well; laser, perforation, embossing, lacquering, with or without fur, brushing, skiving — it is truly limitless. Lately, we have also been developing sustainable leathers that use either little to no water in the dyeing process or plant-based tanning. It’s challenging, but we need to head this way.
In working for brands or in your personal projects, how does your creative process work? What sparks your creativity the most?
Inspiration can come from anywhere — whether you are walking around an open market in the south of France or examining the texture of a bug. Anything can spark an idea, but the challenge is translating it into a believable product. My personal process starts with sketching, more like doodling even. I draw hundreds of tiny shoes before I make a selection of which to proceed with. Each sketch helps me make new connections and create a product that is as least predictable as possible.
Now, can you tell us what your fave pair of Filling Pieces sneakers are?
My favorite pair of Filling Pieces would be the Crease Runner. It is a pair I designed for the Autumn-Winter 2020 collection. I love the concept and the material mix in all the four colorways we came up with.
And we know you live between Stockholm & Amsterdam, so where would you say the best places to take a stroll in your fave sneakers around these towns are?
In Stockholm, my classic Saturday routine is taking a walk from Slussen to Sofo, by strolling through Katarina Kyrka garden, going for a waffle at Älskade Traditioner and finally ending up at Sneakers and Stuff. Considering the current situation in Amsterdam, I like to take a daily walk through Westerpark. It is very cozy in the early spring.
We can’t wait to see where these paths will take you, Sallieres.
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