Remaking traditional Korean farmers' shoes, from the DMY Korean Rubber Shoe exhibition in Berlin: German Jan Philipp Wittrin’s a.k.a. POG’s 'Rubber Socks' transform into temporary rain boots. With a bit of a 'Louis XIV' styling they are perfect as fancy street wear.

Korean Rubber Shoes Redesigned

What are these canoe resembling shoes with their snug skywards noses? Korean Rubber Shoes! As part of an international town twinning in the design field, Korean and German designers from Seoul and Berlin remade and redesigned the traditional Korean boots which are still preferably worn for outside farming work. After an exhibition of the Korean part last year at the Seoul Design Festival, the equally cute results turned to art of the German side were just shown at Berlin’s DMY Korean Rubber Shoe exhibition. PingMag grabbed DMY’s creative director Joerg Suehrmann who selected the German part for a very quick chat.

Written by Verena

Wibke Isenberg’s and Irene Hardjanegara’s high-heeled “same same but different,” from the Korean Rubber Shoe exhibition.

When did the Korean Rubber Shoe project start?

It was initially commissioned by last year’s Seoul Design Festival as a project. As we are collaborating with them closely since 2005, we thought it a good opportunity for a show at this year’s Designmai. At the 2006 event the Koreans brought us the shoes and asked me to choose the German section. I had lots of fun selecting it: It wasn’t commissioned by a commercial client and the designers could freely work on it. I liked their ironic approach a lot, too.


Traditional Korean rubber shoes with healing silt, by Sybille Kesslau. Never ending foot massage!

Also by Sybille Kesslau: rubber shoes with sandpaper.
Concrete? Indeed! Berlin-based Metrofarm’s mating of fine delicate shape with ruff material.

Now, why rubber shoes? I read that they were traditionally worn by farmers and used to be made out of leather. Also, they might have originated from Japan…

Yes. . Most probably they are used for humid seasons. Moreover, I found out that the traditional Korean wedding shoes have the same shape, but they are usually made of another material. Here in Berlin, we did ask ourselves who actually is wearing them at all – as they are not the most comfy ones to wear…

Jaybo’s a.k.a. Monk’s ‘HE AND HER’. He says: “I see man and woman as an inseparable entity, different but same regarding the simplicity of the material they are made of. These shoes are not made for walking, they are made to reflect on about the responsibility of creating a new association: We are all equal.” Okay…
‘Supermann’ by JPECH.

Some shoes have a different shape – so they are not unisex?

There are two different versions for men and women. The ladies’ Rubber Shoe is trimmer with front and back side more skywards. Whereas the mens’ version looks more like a normal shoe, being broader and flatter.

The carnivorous plant shoe by Pit Ruge.
Vogt + Weizenegger’s doorhandle shoes: ‘The doorhandle is the pictured expression of the link between East and West, North and South.’ Rapid prototyping, once again!

I see. For you as curator, how did you select the designers?

I searched for artists whom I knew would have a very different approach in terms of material and concept. That is why I chose a variety of product designers and furniture and fashion designers. For example, product designers Vogt + Weizenegger worked quite conceptual, thus making doorknobs out of the shoes. Or see Florinda Schnitzel’s approach: Coming from a background in fashion, she chose to use only the same material to alter the shoe’s surface with rubber patches.

Korean Kim Chi-ho upgraded his rubber shoes with studs for the fancy disco apparel. Commissioned by the Seoul Design Festival 2006.

How about Golo Schmeh’s sequined rubber extravaganza?

Graphic designer Golo Schmeh liked to work with different glueing techniques…

…and Jan Philipp Wittrin’s elegantly enhanced rubber boots, not only for rainy season…

He had his mens’ version with yellow socks, the ladies’ version goes in pink.

Glistening beauty by Tine Benz.

And I really got into Jaybo’s spikey shoes resembling a sea urchin. Who is behind that nickname, by the way?

Jaybo a.k.a. Monk is the art director of style mag and of fashion label Iriedaily. With his pair he tried to play with our perception of gender…


What’s left at the end of the day… by Lee Suk-woo, from the exhibition at the Seoul Design Festival.

Rubber sequins by Golo Schmeh.
Tribal tattoos? Everything looks good on those shoes! Benoît Deneufbourg’s redesign.

Also interesting are the concrete shoes of Berlin-based Metrofarm: turned to art objects as you can’t obviously wear them…

They completely abandoned the idea of the shoe itself.

Well, regarding Metrofarm’s works, concrete is one of their favourite ingredients anyway…

Yes, however most of the designers operated within their fields. For example, Vogt + Weizenegger did already a lot with rapid prototyping like their Sinter Chair, so they naturally applied that to the shoes as well. Or take Jan Philipp Wittrin a.k.a. POG: He is a furniture designer always using stuff he buys from the do-it-yourself store. His rubber socks, for example, are made of typical rubber gloves from the store.


Lee Sang-jin, from the Seoul Design Festival 2006.

Oh Se-hwan, from the Seoul Design Festival 2006.

Oh Se-hwan, from the Seoul Design Festival 2006.

Park Jin-woo, from the Seoul Design Festival 2006.

Beautiful! I’m eager for your coming collaborations at next year’s DMY. Thank you, Joerg Suehrmann!


From the Korean Rubber Shoe exhibition in Berlin… Photo by Bernd Tochatschek.

… held at the Korean embassy. Photo by Bernd Tochatschek.
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