The professional auto body painter works in an extreme environment, where the painter faces constant movement, ever-changing working situations and pressure to deliver a flawless paint job: the paint booth. The temperature in the paint booth is high, often around 30˚ celsius. The floor is very hard, made of metal grid or concrete, and the painter usually has to move around a lot, at least 9 km per day.
For this project I chose to focus on the painter’s work footwear as a major part of the personal protective equipment. My goal is to create a new standard in working shoes, specifically made for this environment and context. A comfortable shoe that could withstand heat, paint dust and wear. A shoe that is made for its users: the FRM AIRCON.
Inspiration and Method
During this project I’ve been working closely with my users; the auto body painters, and my collaboration partners; Attention and Pensole. I have continuously been presenting thoughts and ideas through the process, always followed by discussions with feedback and adjustments. I also held a workshop (with fellow students) at UID that provided some good insight and a solid start for ideation. Using this help, I’ve been able to create a new product, which is truly suitable for its context.
Attention has been my primary collaboration partner, giving necessary, constructive feedback during the research and ideation phase of the project. Following their check points every week, I managed to keep the project right on track.
D’Wayne Edwards is the founder of Pensole, and former footwear Design Director at Nike and Jordan Brand. He has been providing valuable expertise during this project, especially regarding the design direction. He also has unmatched knowledge when it comes to footwear material, construction and function.
The final result is a new type of working shoe, the FRM AIRCON. A shoe that, is sleek, lightweight, breathes – and also durable, with good suspension. The shoe is specifically made and designed for auto body painters – a professional group that has a strong need for new and improved personal protection equipment.
The shoe is made of solvent and paint dust resistant material, including an optimized soft rubber outsole – giving the shoe a life span that exceeds today’s insufficient alternatives by far.
Flexibility and mobility are key factors for the auto body painter, and consequently, major focus areas for the project – aiming to make the shoe as lightweight as possible, while keeping it durable and functional. The shoe capitalizes on its existing environment by turning the cons into pros.
FRM AIRCON offers superior ventilation, by using the existing ventilation in the paint booth, with the a option to plug in the shoes to the air pressure system, making them breathe even better.