The capacity of channeling what we carry between the soul and the brain is always a good start, especially in the creative realm.
Bear in mind, creativity manifests itself, ideas become objects, in many cases they become parts that can take an existing product and re imagine its appearance, purpose and beauty.
When I saw Arocho’s work I knew I had to interview him, and write about his work.
Antonio is a young man who began to plan his future in industrial design at a very early age.
The artist brought with him knowledge of studies in biology and the realization of having studied a wide range of academic interests.
Active in sports such as volleyball, arts and ballet, the artist graduated with honors.
While studying Biology at the Colegio de Mayagüez the young artist transferred to the School of Plastic Arts where he completed a Bachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude in Industrial Design.
“It was during my college years I started reading and an interest in shoes flourished.”
At 27, Antonio is on his way to impact the world of fashion through his unique designs.
Are there themes that you are passionate about, and do you incorporate them into your work?
I have always been a curious person, I have many interests that permeate my designs. My past studies in biology and industrial design have a lot of influence on my work. I am influenced by science, water, movement and physics. I use 3D a lot, exploring design methods in Virtual, Augmentative and Mixed Reality.
What things do you pursue to make your shoes stand out?
I like to design consciously, I love to do research, and using design paths like 3D to create my shoes. The process of creation is what I enjoy the most, I like to let the shoe express themselves and talk to me while I build them. I am a true believer that the future is in 3D and its generated experiences.
How would you define your shoe’s?
The pieces are unique, product of hard work and constant revision. I use my knowledge of traditional footwear construction and integrate it with the 3D design. Between tradition and digital tools I carve a path to the future.
It is important for me to respect tradition and innovate in the field of shoes. Many of my pieces are digital entities that live through a virtual reality headset or through your cell phone in augmentative reality. Most of them can be tried on or one can have that experience physically or digitally.
Who is your work appealing to?
It is for everyone, I invite the consumer to create a conversation about the present, past and future of design, shoes and 3D. My work is my method of expression, it is the way of my inner voice. I talk a lot about movement and how change is important. I also talk about emotions as I look into the future. Creating speculative projects that in the near or distant future, can be our present.
What are you working on?
I find myself working on two major projects. One personal and one very important. I will soon be able to talk about it in more details. The personal one is a continuation of my work Blue, an experimental footwear collection. It is a work in virtual reality, where I navigate the feelings and the association of the color blue with feelings of sadness, redefining the word feeling blue.
What is your motto in life?
For me it is perseverance, work and maintaining an insatiable curiosity. When I started this career in footwear, there were only 5 books in Puerto Rico, I did not find resources to learn traditional footwear. I had many opportunities to travel, study, learn and soak in my training in the art of footwear. I would like to create a path in Puerto Rico to show that with a lot of work, dedication and commitment goals are achieved and if I am lucky, have a great career.
What are your goals?
To follow my curiosity, to continue creating experiences in footwear, looking at the future that is approaching us. The future is uncertain, but I’m taking firm steps.
What prompted you to create this collection?
I started designing shoes because I was very interested in fashion and at the same time attracted to industrial materials such as wood, metal resin, cork. Shoes are the bridge between both fields. My work is varied and in some projects, complex. It is a set of different influences between art, design, biology, bio-design, technology and computer science. From kitchen design, furniture, knives, to virtual reality experiences with shoes and clothing. My art has been presented at London Design Week, the Bienal Iberoamericana in Madrid, London Fashion Week and in Times Square, New York City. I have been part of digital fashion talks at the Royal College of Art and presented with Microsoft.
In Puerto Rico there is an infinite range of designers. What do you think is needed to stimulate the industry? After the pandemic a lot has changed in the fashion industry. What do you hope for in the near future?
The pandemic has redefined the concept of fashion and design. I say this because it brought into conversation changes in the paradigms of construction and product development. In the digital era that we are in, we must already begin in Puerto Rico to work more fully and teach 3D. The world, the consumer and design have changed. It is imperative that we establish transparency in production, design process. 3D is sustainable and connects everyone. Virtual reality and augmentative reality have gradually begun to enter large design houses like Gucci and Burberry. I believe in a digital future, in harmony with the traditional, transparency in fashion and equal treatment of all people.
His first opportunity in the world of footwear design came in 2014 when he met the curator of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Elizabeth Semmelhack. “She was the first to give me my first shoe books. By 2015, I was able to study, I was able to study summer at Polimoda in Florence. Here I learned traditional shoe construction.
In 2016 I had the opportunity to take an intensive summer course in footwear at the London College of Fashion. Here I presented my first 3D shoe collection.
“I was one of nine, the only one in America and the first from Puerto Rico. It was one of my great goals. During my master’s degree, I was able to work on important projects such as Microsoft’s Future of Fashion Incubator, where I led a group of 6 members in the creation of a virtual reality shopping experience inspired by Vivienne Westwood. I finished my master’s degree by presenting a digital footwear collection in virtual reality, where the user puts on real shoes in order to try, touch and walk in my virtual collection.
After completing his master’s degree, Antonio Arocho has been working on multiple collaborative works with designers, and creators from different parts of the world.