Unifold, the latest addition to an ever-growing list of eco-friendly inventions, looks set to revolutionize the current shoe-manufacturing process, as well as tackling a huge problem in the developing world: the fact that over 300 million children worldwide do not own a single pair of shoes.
According to the non-profit organization, Soles4Souls, the number of barefoot orphaned children is estimated to be above 20 million in sub-Saharan Africa alone. Children in these countries frequently sustain fatal injuries to their feet while searching for food or household items in garbage dumps or sewers. In addition, parasitic infections such as hookworm and threadworm can easily penetrate the skin through the feet.
With this in mind, Horatio Yuxin Han, a Pratt Institute student, has come up with a possible solution: Unifold, an origami-inspired foldable shoe that has the power to transform the often lengthy and difficult process of shoemaking into an accessible art. The shoes are made with EVA material, a dense and durable foam that can be easily recycled.
This simple but revolutionary idea carries with it the potential to drastically cut down on the raw materials needed to make conventional footwear – and maybe even turn the art of shoemaking into a more local, community-based enterprise.
Han says, “I imagine that designers from all over the world could share their folding shoe design online, and customers could get it printed and cut in the local workshop.”
The project is in its early days as of right now – the Pratt Institute is currently working to develop and market Han’s idea to the general public – but keep an eye out, because Unifold could soon be coming to a store near you!