I’ve been working with Vivobarefoot, the original barefoot shoe company to establish themselves on the high street. Its been an exciting and educational experience working in this new area of footwear design.

Vivobarefoot is a small company with a very pure idea of how so called ‘barefoot’ shoes should be designed and made, and ultimately what they are for.

Unlike their more mainstream competitors, they are unconvinced by talk of ‘transistioning’ into shoes with no cushioning from what a customer might routinely wear now.

They believe that you should go as close to barefoot as you can straight away, hence their patented 3mm puncture resistant sole.

Their important point is that customers re-train their body to move naturally, as it was designed to do. This process obviously goes way beyond just buying a shoe.

The company is signaling its intent to provide a duty of care to its customers offering advice and direction on the skills they need to learn. This happens well before, during and well after the point of purchase.

The barefoot concept can be a complex and difficult proposition. There’s lots to take in and learn. The ideas and concepts behind skilled movement need to be delivered clearly.

The nearest space we could liken it to was that of the interpretive exhibit. A space where you can walk around gradually absorbing the narrative of a subject.

This space will develop further over time. The messages are simple and direct to start with. The customer experiences a one-on-one with a member of the shop team, who is a fully trained barefoot movement coach.

As the company moves forward, the space will become develop, evolving with the product and its customers. For now though, its a stripped out space, reflecting the market position of the products, No nonsense minimal footwear.

The achievement has been to do less, make it simple and tell a coherent story. In the world of retail design, where over-the-top and ostentatious spaces seem the norm for many right now, its been refreshing to execute simple, particularly where it relates to a clever young company, proud of its ecological stance to manufacturing.

Simple always works when you have a great story to tell. Its difficult if you have nothing innovative to sell in terms of products or service.

Thanks to Fernando at Shinerack in San Francisco for the very cool shoe display brackets. We had been looking for a way to show the innovative outsole for these products for some time.


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