"As one of humanity’s earliest inventions, the oldest pair of shoes discovered date back roughly 10,000 years. Despite this, shoes like my Allbirds are proof that they can still be improved on. In this case, through sustainably sourced materials, ethical business practices, and, surprisingly, more comfort.
As a designer, these shoes serve as a reminder that just because something’s been done before, doesn’t mean that it can’t be done better. The possible of today was once the impossible of yesterday, and we all have the ability to be the creators of meaningful change as long as we’re willing to search for the problems experienced through not only our own stories, but through the stories of others.
Throughout my life, I kept chasing larger communities, diversity of thought, and different perspectives, in order to identify and challenge my own prejudices and privileges. I learned that purpose and perspective are traits that anyone has the power to change and take control over. Somewhere along the way, I heard a quote. “Don’t wait for the perfect story. Take your story and make it perfect.” I asked myself what can I learn from being born into a biracial home affected by disability. The early tragedies that made me ponder the value of the lives we live. Listening to the stories of youth caregivers who take on the responsibilities thrust upon them that many adults would shy away from. Seeing the inequalities, stigmas, and financial burdens that come with being disabled for no other reason than chance. But also the hope, perseverance, and resilience that come with every single one of these experiences. Through these stories, I learned of problems that are deeply tied to human emotions and what it means to live a life of quality. “Doing the things you care about most; The things that give you meaning.” The wicked problems that designers are uniquely positioned to thrive in despite their abundance of complexity and uncertainty. This is what led me to devote my time to solving for the hardships faced within chronic and long term care. Starting by improving mobility aids such as walkers, crutches, and even…. shoes.
While design thinking will continue to improve on things as simple as a pair of shoes, I believe it has the potential to help solve some of the most wicked problems through radical collaboration, creative thinking, chronic curiosity, and empathy; Providing sustainable solutions that promote equity, happiness, and livelihood for all.
At our core we're all designers and creators who can strive to build better futures. While I’ve found my problem to own, I encourage you to find the one that speaks to you.
“The true measure of a society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members” and since we are one human society, how might we treat them?"