The Repair It Yourself (RIY) concept by Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Eugenia Morpurgo is a canvas shoe designed to be as repairable as possible. It's a design that not only addresses the shortcomings of traditional shoemaking, but also poses questions as to the sustainability of our consumer habits.

As Morpurgo points out, the soles and uppers of traditional shoes, be they handmade or mass produced, rely on glued or stitched "irreversible" (i.e. permanent) connections. RIY shoes have a "reversible" connection instead, with circular plugs on the underside of the insole passing through holes in the canvas upper to slot into the sole, expediting replacement and repair. Further, the idea is that the shoes would come with a repair kit so that wear and tear can be darned or patched, keeping the shoes in working order, and gradually personalizing the shoes' appearance as time passes.

"RIY focuses on the key role of the designer, and how design decisions can influence and suggest consumer behavior," Morpurgo told Gizmag. "RIY is meant to disrupt a less sustainable cycle of consume/discard, but the way I propose to achieve it is by taking advantage of the new consumer demands."

Morpurgo sees RIY as an opportunity for us to "re-appropriate control of the material world," for mere consumers to become educated users that understand, and take an active interest in maintaining their possessions. These "new consumer demands" are those of the prosumer, the hacker, and the thrifty crafter - for whom sharing information and ideas online is second nature. It's this mindset that Morpurgo seeks to tap into with RIY.

In the RIY research paper, Morpurgo looks at the ethos of "design for disassembly" in great detail, taking inspiration from Dutch design group Platform 21's Repair Manifesto. Morpurgo, however, distills the idea into concrete rules that can be followed by industrial designers. These call for, among other things, a minimal number of components, materials and connections; recyclable materials; impermanent connections using standard components where possible, and permanent labels to identify materials.

The RIY paper can be read at the bottom of the RIY project page, available on Eugenia Morpurgo's website.

View gallery - 8 images