When is a shoe like a building?

cube bootie

QUICK, what does a building have in common with a shoe?

Not much, when you think about it, but both play a vital role: in being structurally sound, both a building and a shoe support humans and their ambitions: a building doing so by placing a roof over your head, while a shoe lifts and supports the human body and protects the foot.

Rem D. Koolhaas, nephew of esteemed Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, came to the Philippines once again to promote his shoe brand, United Nude — last year the came to open the shoe store in Resorts World Manila.

Now, central to the shoe brand’s creation is a heartbreak he experienced while in university. He has since been happily married, but while in the delirium of his distress, he switched his course from buildings to designing shoes. “It’s the birth of the idea of the downscaling from larger architecture to its smaller, more intimate kind of scale,” he said, delineating the relationship between shoes and buildings (at least, for him).

He says about his creative streak during the unfortunate romantic episode, “If you’re stuck in something, say a broken heart… you have to use that energy and flip it.

“You can cry, and hide yourself in your room, but while you’re doing that, bring a notebook; bring a sketchbook,” he said, and that could be a tip for any creative person out there.

He also likes designing in what he calls an “in-between space”: airports, buses, trains, and the like. It says a lot about how his mind works: while he says that he is inspired during his travels, it’s not so much that he’s literally inspired visually, but the rush of movement makes his mind accelerate. But in an in-between space, he puts pen to paper, because, “You know you’re stuck.”

As he was talking with BusinessWorld at the sidelines of a United Nude event on Jan. 12, he was wearing a clunky pair of black sneakers. It turns out that he is expanding his men’s line, noting that the shoe is part of his Fall/Winter 2019 collection, which he took out to test before its release in July.

He is also planning to make a high-heeled shoe for men with model Shaun Ross.

The brand is known for its various avant-garde creations, which attract the attention of people like Lady Gaga, or else creative collaborations with the likes of the late architect Zaha Hadid.

If a shoe can tell so much about a person, then what does a United Nude shoe say about its wearer? “It’s basically a statement that says, ‘I like design,’ said Mr. Koolhaas. — Joseph L. Garcia