Dr Catherine Willems

Catherine Willems (PhD) combines her work as designer, lecturer and researcher. She teaches footwear design and design anthropology at the design department KASK & Conservatorium, school of arts of HOGENT and Howest (Belgium). With an educational background in Comparative Cultural Sciences at Ghent University (BE) and Footwear Design at Ars Sutoria in Milan (IT), Willems graduated with a PhD in the Arts in which she combines biomechanics, anthropology, and design sciences. She explores the relation between materials, skills, and design methods in various communities in different 

geographical areas, including Namibia, India, Finland, and Belgium, and questions the conventional thinking on design, production, and creativity. Inspired by the convergence of traditional wisdom and modern technology, Willems aims to bring sustainable production and individual needs closer together. In 2017 she founded the ‘Future Footwear Foundation’ to scale up local activities to global impact and to sustain the convergence beyond term-limited research. She fosters collaborations between artisans, students, and synergistic units in academia and private sectors around the world (with Vivobarefoot as main collaborator). An overview of her work can be found in her book ‘Do you want your feet back?’, link to pdf: