Aug 29, 2023
by Sofia de la Cruz
Kiki Grammatopoulos’ “Rewild the Run” Sneakers Are Eco-Conscious by Name and Nature
by Sofia de la Cruz
Aug 29, 2023

Have you ever heard of sneakers that sow seeds as you move? Well, neither had we.

Not, that is, until the designer and recent Central Saint Martins graduate, Kiki Grammatopoulos, unveiled her “Rewild the Run” prototype as part of her biomimicry-driven MA Material Futures project.

Displayed at the university’s end-of-year show and showcased during Milan Design Week 2023, these shoes aim to become agents of greenery within urban landscapes.

Construction-wise, the jazzy silhouette features spiky blue outsoles that mimic animal hooves and fur. Engineered with small hooks, the outsoles attach to dirt and plant fragments. The purpose? Replicating epizoochory, where seeds hitch a ride on animal fur, enabling plants to spread across various landscapes. Essentially, wearers become carriers of diverse plant species, supporting biodiversity in urban environments.

Grammatopoulos has been vocal about the concerning issue of the extensive fragmentation and reduction of natural habitats brought about by urban expansion, which has a range of adverse effects on ecosystem functioning, such as the disruption of plant dispersal processes across the landscape. “Urban rewilding seeks to equip cities and towns to support wildlife and cater to diverse ecosystems within urban constraints,” she shared on her Instagram page.

The designer continued, “The city is an entirely man-made construct and demands intuitive thinking to integrate natural spaces within it. Therefore, a vital part of urban rewilding is the human component of the process. Footwear serves as our connection to the ground and our environment. Inspired by animal hooves and fur, this project proposes that our outsoles could promote biodiversity and further cultivate ecosystems by mimicking the behavior of ‘keystone species.'”

The prototype for “Rewild the Run” is currently 3D-printed in nylon polymer and designed to fit over a standard New Balance trail running shoe. However, Grammatopoulos envisions a more sustainable future, aiming for the product to be manufactured using performance rubber through 3D printing or injection molding. She is actively seeking manufacturing partners to bring her vision to life, enhancing the product’s durability and environmental impact.

Currently, the recent Central Saint Martins graduate is collaborating with the London-based running community, Run the Boroughs, to test the effectiveness of her designs. The partnership not only evaluates the trainers’ functionality in promoting urban rewilding but also emphasizes the potential of sports as a vehicle for environmental change.

Catch a glimpse of the initial “Rewild the Run” iteration, captured by Mael Henaff, Tom Mannion and George Downham, in the gallery above. For updates on the project’s progress, be sure to keep an eye on Kiki Grammatopoulos’ Instagram.