Tiné-Berès is talking about his Lasso Shoes, a pair of self-assembly slippers he designed in 2012 while a student at the RCA, and which he has now launched on Kickstarter, an online platform that allows designers to fund projects through crowd-sourcing. Tiné-Berès is hoping to raise £17,000 to fund the production of the slippers, which will be manufactured by the Sellerie Parisienne, a social enterprise that provides work opportunities for people with special needs and which is located near to Tiné-Berès’ Paris studio.
The slippers were created as part of Tiné-Berès' design products degree at the RCA in response to a brief challenging students to investigate local manufacturing. Made from single pieces of felt stitched together with shoelaces, the slippers were shown as part of the RCA’s 2012 graduation show as well as at the Milan Furniture Fair.
“I had some feedback from potential producers, but none of them cared about where the shoes were produced or how they were being produced,” says Tiné-Berès. “They were just interested in the product, rather than the idea behind it. They wanted to make it in China, which isn't really the point of the design.”
The focus of Lasso Shoes is on locality. The product is sent out to consumers flat-packed, so that buyers assemble the shoes themselves by threading a coloured shoelace through the felt to pull the slippers into shape.
"When you’re working on this type of scale, the designer is the first consumer of his product," says Tiné-Berès. "I needed slippers because I was living in a really cold flat, so I just tried to make some as simply as possible. The idea of involving the consumer in the assembly came about through logic. If everyone makes their own product, that’s the most local form of manufacture."
This emphasis on locality is an aspect of the design that Tiné-Berès hopes will be nurtured through Kickstarter. "I’m not just designing this product and then leaving some unknown person in charge of manufacturing it," he says. "The manufacturer is local to me, so I know him personally. If there’s a problem, I can go to the factory directly and speak to the guy in charge of it. That's something absent from a lot of design.
"I would be very happy to have a piece manufactured in somewhere like China, but would be unlikely to be able to meet whoever was running the factory out there. That sense of contact and control is something that I have with Lasso Shoes."