by Laura Daza
Tracey Neuls is a contemporary shoe designer with a shop located in the heart of Shoreditch, in the trendy Redchurch Street. A colourful graffiti facade makes it appealing to pedestrians passing by the shop window, which is characterized by an installation of hanging shoes in a minimalistic style. Each shoe is thought as a sculptural artwork; a unique piece that resembles textures, colours and crafts; and a storyteller, which reflects concepts and ideas she has encountered on her daily journeys.
This brand has been open to the public for more than 12 years giving the best of contemporary design to Londoners. This designer thinks about non-ephemeral and timeless products; designing without boundaries, which mingles between art and design with a story and secret to keep. In the design process, she finds inspiration from any source but her aim is always offering the best, a sublime product for its quality of performance connected to delightful prints and shapes to perceive.
Tracey has collaborated with creative brands and artists such as Dezeen; Nicola Yeoman; Nina Saunders; London Design Festival.
Tell me more about the history of the brand, when and why did it started? Why shoes?
The starting point would be when I was about 9 years old. My first shoes were crafted out of toilet paper roll heels and cardboard soles. I loved spending my spare time making shoes and actually wearing them out on the streets as well… for however long they would last! However, when I moved from Canada to London in 96, I decided to get serious and enrolled at Cordwainers College for proper shoe making. From here my path started to unfold. I was picked up from my final show by a fashion designer who wanted catwalk shoes. This little project ended up in designing and producing shoes in Italy. One day I noted the level of work versus pay and decided that the risk to do it for myself was quite low. This was when I started TN_29.
What drives your designs and what inspires you?
My creative process is very insular. I try to capture that child like imagination and innocence that you have when you are young and not influenced by the world around you. I think footwear should be original and not what fashion dictates. In a world of so many people, it is important to be individual. My starting point is often my finger tips. When it comes to sculpting a new shape, I use plasticine as I did when I was a kid. The smell of plasticine alone is enough to get the creative juices flowing. My hands are as important as my eyes.
When do consider working out of your comfort zone, have you experienced challenges?
Oh my god, yes to both! Many companies work with shoes that someone has already designed. There are tradeshows where all components of a shoe can be bought and virtually all you have to do is assemble the ‘design’ which of course takes most of the originality out of the design. This so called ‘design’ also ensures that there is so much ‘sameness’ in the market place. But having said all this, to forge your own path through the world of shoe components is very difficult. It is like reinventing the wheel with every new shape.
For more information visit http://www.tn29.com/