It was already for humanitarian purposes, and for his design talent, that Korean Designer Lee Jinyoung of i-Clue Design had found himself in Malawi: a TV show called “Designer People” had invited him there for an episode (seemingly as-yet unaired) that specifically focused on that country. There, seeing the lack of daily necessities among many of the people, he got an inspiration for a new type of humanitarian entrepreneurship: what if all the raw materials laying about – scraps of fabric and tire rubber – could be fashioned into shoes to protect children’s feet from injury and infection? The ‘Klem Project,’ named for an African child Lee met named Klementi and the Norwegian word for ‘hug,’ is an open design solution designed to reduce Africans’ feelings of dependency on foreign aid organizations and instead make use of the environment around them. The resulting shoes look a little like Toms, but they fit snugly, hence the wordplay with the Norwegian.
More than a commodity, Klem is an education project. With a little training, Lee’s audience gained a valuable new skill that, aside from providing them with a basic necessity, could provide a foundation for the manufacture of future commodities. Lee decided that mass production of the shoes would only be allowed for personal use, rather than for profit, so that the shoes remain accessible to a variety of communities across the world. It will be exciting to see how different local communities take to the designs and create their own interpretations.
Source and image: DesignBoom