wM EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
Kobi Levi’s shoes speak for themselves. Surely you’ve seen them. His sculptural and melodramatic designs are objects contemplation and awe for fashion bloggers throughout. Now, you can hear from the designer behind the shoes as well as have a look at some of Levi’s other, rarely-seen pieces.
The Tel Aviv-based shoe designer sits down with wonderMode to discuss the ideas behind his eclectic shoes, where he will take them next, and how soon you can get your hands on them. On January 13, a retrospective on Levi’s work, titled Walkable, opens at The Guild School of Footwear and Accessory Design in Tel Aviv.
You’re best known for your often humorous and satirically-designed footwear, and, by the looks of them, you don’t design shoes with function in mind. So why shoes? Why not design in some other medium?
I see the shoes as a wearable sculpture. The shoe is being designed as the center piece and not as an accessory to the clothes. The shoes are completely real and wearable, but the design is so off-standard, giving the shoe a new character, and questions its functionality.
Do you think of your designs as shoes or as art, or perhaps a form of social commentary?
All of the above. The design is a complete hybrid of the image, the concept and the shoe.
I image your shoes would be quite popular in stores, both for their statement and for their novelty. How many pairs of each design do you produce? Do you sell them?
At the moment, most of the designs are one of a kind pairs hand made in my studio. Custom made pairs are made per order. All of my shoes are still made by hand—one by one—so it’s quite expensive. It can take 2 weeks at least to re-make a style. The original takes about a month.
Who is your customer? Do art collectors often buy your shoes?
Different customers asked about buying, Art collectors & Museums (whom already have some pieces), and people that just want a pair for use and show.
Can you give us an idea of how much you charge for custom orders?
This is still vague as these are handmade in my studio at the moment, just like any art piece. When it’ll be produced it can be priced according to all the product aspects.
Have you ever attempted a design that you couldn’t finish due to technical reasons?
I approach the technical difficulties as challenges, and sometimes it even gives the final result an extra value. I find a way to make it happen. I have to.
January 13 is the day that a retrospective of your work, cleverly titled Walkable, will open at The Guild School of Footwear and Accessory Design in Tel Aviv. What’s it like for your work to be the subject of a retrospective, particularly since you’re still quite young?
Well, I’ve been creating these shoes for about 12 years, since my collage studies in Bezalel Academy. So it is a period of time that can represent a certain direction, a point of view. I’ve exhibited many times before, but always in a group exhibition. This is my first “Solo” exhibition and it is very exciting.
I’m curious to see the reactions of the visitors. The reactions I’m getting lately, mostly from my online exhibition are amazing. Seeing the shoes in real life is a different experience.
What are your future plans? Do you intend to expand your work?
Absolutely. I’m checking the options for limited edition production, but this will be very challenging with these designs.
So would your limited-edition collection be sold in stores?
It’s too early to tell, but I do see a big interest from many places asking about my designs.
Do you have any plans to go beyond shoes?
I’m collaborating with a shoe chain store here making a women’s fashion shoe line.
I’ve also designed bags and eyewear, some crazy ones too. Want to see?