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Graduate Spotlight: MA Footwear student Sandra Plantos

Deborah Sheedy Photography 2 copy
Deborah Sheedy Photography 2 copy
A clip from Sandra Plantos short film, Presence. Photography by Deborah Sheedy
Written by
Josh De Souza Crook
Published date
17 February 2016

LCFMA16 Exhibition has officially opened and LCF News has been speaking to MA Footwear designers involved in this years exhibitions. Irish footwear designer Sandra Plantos created a collection of shoes that are too heavy to walk in, encouraging the wearer to slow down the pace of life and instead experience time. Sandra also a film to symbolise the slowing down of pace and movement away from today’s consumer society. In her Graduate Spotlight interview for LCFMA16, Sandra discusses why she wanted to study footwear after completing her Architecture degree, time at LCF and how studying a postgraduate helps develop creativity.

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MA Footwear student Sandra Plantos.

Where and what did you study prior to your MA at LCF?

Prior to studying MA Footwear, I completed an MA and BSc. in Architecture at University College Dublin in Ireland. For a short period of time, I also took part in the ERASMUS Programme in architecture at Technical University Delft (TU Delft) in Holland.

What made you want to study MA Footwear?

There is more to it than simply my obsession and love for shoes. I have always been interested in details – even throughout my architecture education – I loved working with, understanding and designing details. It is for this reason that I wanted to narrow down my design focus to a smaller scale – to the scale of the body, in particular to the scale of the foot. I also wanted to immerse myself in the London creative, fashion scene – and LCF – as I continue to feed off its ceaseless energy.

Photography by Deborah Sheedy

P R E S E N C E from Sandra Plantos on Vimeo. Design, Concept & Direction: Sandra Plantos. Filming, Editing & Sound: Deborah Sheedy. Dancer: Jennifer Vogtle. Photography by Deborah Sheedy

Tell us about your Masters project?

As part of my MA in Fashion Footwear, I created a 5-piece conceptual collection of Footwear Artefacts as well as a short film, which further contextualises the work. During my architectural education, I developed a strong interest in materiality, texture and the act of ‘thinking’ through ‘making’, all of which have been at the core of my design approach in footwear. The MA Footwear Collection sought to abstract natural materials from their ‘usual’ context, and to give them new life in the form of evocative Footwear objects.

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One of the final 5-piece footwear collection for Sandra Plantos.

The collection pushes the boundaries of footwear by introducing a new typology – that of Immoveable Footwear – through the use of the material concrete. In this way, the collection entraps and restricts the wearer’s movements, slowing down the pace of daily life, and so the experience of Time. This physical act of slowing down seeks to influence the wearer psychologically into decelerating the processing of imagery that is generated by today’s mass consumer society. The collection is specifically crafted in response to the human body using my own footprint as subject of the work. Using Architecture as inspiration, the footwear objects are in fact miniature structures, which create spaces for the feet to inhabit. My desire was to create objects that frame, halt, and strengthen our thoughts, inviting us to dream and to imagine, thus encouraging a temporary disengagement from the context of everyday life.

Can you describe your style in five words?

Innovative – Minimalist – Architectural – Tactile – Honest

Why did you choose LCF?

One of the main reasons I chose to study my MA Footwear at London College of Fashion was because of the high standard of work from here. Prior to starting the course, I had been to a number of LCFMA Graduate Exhibitions and I was deeply mesmerised with and inspired by the students’ work. I also felt that the on-campus facilities at Golden Lane were excellent, not to mention the highly skilled technicians and forward thinking tutors!

Does studying an MA help you develop a personal style and express creativity further than a BA?

In general, I think that the MA is all about independent thinking and learning. You must be prepared to be your own boss, to manage your own time, to set your own deadlines, to be organised and motivated. One of the best things about studying an MA at LCF is that you are encouraged to freely express your creativity. I found myself embarking on a self-exploratory journey that helped me identify my own strengths and weaknesses, turning challenges into opportunities for self-improvement.

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One of the final 5-piece footwear collection for Sandra Plantos.

What are your plans after graduation, has studying MA Footwear helped you realise what/where you want to be doing?

At the moment I am working on a part-time basis for London-based, clothing and footwear designer Mira Mikati, carrying out the hand-painted artwork for the S/S16 footwear collection. I am also currently seeking other opportunities to gain commercial experience in the field of Footwear, as my ultimate goal is to launch my own commercial footwear brand when I feel that I have gained enough knowledge of the industry.
The MA in Fashion Footwear challenged me to break out of my comfort zone by opening up new horizons for me, in art, sculpture, photography and film. I wish to further expand on this through my conceptual work. In my spare time, I continually sketch and work on conceptual designs, seeking inspiration in the fabric of my surroundings and through engagement with the wider artistic community.

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One of the final 5-piece footwear collections for Sandra Plantos.

What advice would you give to anyone considering studying an MA at LCF?

Be prepared to work hard. Be ready to question yourself as a designer, to push your own boundaries and to be open-minded. You are not expected or supposed to know what your final outcome of the MA is in its early stages. My best advice is to see the MA as a blank canvas, to play, to explore, to learn, as this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be the best you can be.