Heron Preston 3D printed sneaker
by Stephen Garner
Heron Preston 3D printed sneaker

Designer Heron Preston has teamed up with emerging technology company Zellerfeld on the launch of his first fully 3-D printed shoe.

Called the “HERON01,” the new sneaker represents a new era of footwear production, and is made without factories and supply chain, and can also be recycled by Zellerfeld to create material for new shoes.

Inspired by nature and devoid of traditional construction methods, the HERON01 represents a progressive design approach to footwear and creation. The shoe features printed scales and textures that can be found on the feet of the iconic Heron bird, with sole elements that fuse the impression of a bird claw with advanced footwear design concepts, notably showcased on MR. BAILEY’s Sunday Sketches (who initially helped shape the design direction of the shoe).

The shoe is designed with low ankle cutouts that serve ease of entry, while a chunky sole and threading elements hold the designer’s signature workwear-related and fashion-forward style. The shoe has no seams, stitching, glue, or other weak points, and is printed using varied internal structures that create new levels of fit, cushioning, and breathability.

The HERON01 can be printed in standard sizes and can be custom-fitted to any foot using an iPhone for a foot scan. This creates the best fitting shoe possible, at no additional cost or time. The elimination of toxic glues and materials makes the shoe fully recyclable, which Zellerfeld performs in a closed-loop system that turns old shoe material into new shoes.

Upon seeing an early 3-D printed shoe prototype by Zellerfeld in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Preston immediately realized the potential of rethinking footwear. 3-D printing made the design process for the HERON01 a rapid iterative process that is more similar to software design than traditional shoe design. Rapid collaboration and iteration generated evolving concepts beyond the bounds of traditional footwear, with iterative prints created in hours not months.

The initial efforts and exploration of the HERON01 consisted of rapid iterative prints and transatlantic WhatsApp conversations between Preston and Cornelius Schmitt, the CEO of Zellerfeld, (who did not physically meet during development due to travel restrictions). The collaborators ultimately agreed on exploring design ideas beyond the traditional footwear design language that is often limited and similar due to construction methods.

“Heron is a truly inspirational designer, and 3-D printing will allow visionaries like him to reshape footwear for the better,” said Schmitt.

The HERON01 will initially be available exclusively on StockX as part of a “Campaign for a Cause” benefitting Global March – a charity fighting child labor in supply chains. From October 5th until October 8th, customers interested in landing a pair of the HERON01 can head to StockX and donate $10 for a chance to win.

Winners will get exclusive access to Zellerfeld’s Beta Program. With the shoe’s single material method of creation with fully recyclable materials, the program will allow the worn shoes to be traded in, reprinted, and updated to a newer version after beta, with all upcoming beta program members entitled to one free update in the future.

“The HERON01 is just the beginning — with additive manufacturing, the potential is unlimited,” added Preston. “I was able to design and print functional and evolving prototypes in hours — with traditional manufacturing, this would have taken months. I can’t wait to print more shoes and updates.”


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