Apprentice shoes by Doshi Levien


London-based design practice Doshi Levien have collaborated with bespoke shoemakers John Lobb Ltd to create this range of shoes, entitled Apprentice.

The shoes are made by hand, as shown in this series of photos of the design and manufacture process.

Doshi Levien consists of English designer Jonathan Levien and indian designer Nipa Doshi.

Here's some text about the project from Doshi Levien.


Apprentice project:

Based in the city of London, we are surrounded by small jewel like shops, ateliers, specialist makers and artisans who epitomise fine manufacturing. The trades vary from shoe making, to clothing, saddlery and gentlemen's umbrellas.

The trades people draw upon a reservoir of knowledge learnt through practice and experience and passed on through generations. When you visit one of these ateliers you witness an expertise that encompasses engineering, material technology and fine craftsmanship with an acute understanding of the human anatomy.

With the generous support of the Arts Council of England, we created a collection of shoes that demonstrate the creative possibilities resulting from the partnership between design and expert making. This is our aim as a studio, to work with the best makers in the world.

While spending time with bespoke shoemakers John Lobb ltd., we realised that our ideas needed to grow from an understanding of their processes. Learning about the shoe from a technical and material perspective shaped the design directions.

We decided that reinventing the shoe was out of the question and that it makes sense to utilise all the skills available at John Lobb and create shoes that emphasise their strengths. We wanted to create a range of shoes that can only be made by John Lobb, a collection that can only be made by hand.

The name of the project is ‘Apprentice’. However, unlike the conventional meaning of the word, this collaboration was an equal exchange of expertise.

Posted on Tuesday January 22nd 2008 at 4:59 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Very very cool shoes. I want. Sadly I probably cannot afford.

  • Eloise

    Good for D oshi and Levien for seeking out a trade partner to learn from! Much respect. Makes what they contribute (line, form an attitide, design direction, etc. ) all the more beautiful, signature and real.-

    It is so frustrating to see projects like ‘Tail Lamp” where there is clearly no interest in understanding how things are made, and creating your own. In the above, because the designer has no clue how to make a light (how to work with reflection, how to work with plastic, etc. they have relied on a car manufacturer to do a relatively sophisticated design, considering it’s original purpose) then stung it together like a big joke and sold it at a premium ‘art price’.

    Much more respect is due to a studio like Doshi and Levien who actually have the curiosity and drive enough to learn and create something that is intellingent and new..

    Seriously- much respec.

  • Andrew

    The ladies heels aren’t very nice.
    Those brown ones though… lovely.

  • Curvy

    Does anyone know about good books on shoe design & manufacturing techniques?

  • laru

    i really like the cut of the black oxford – and agree with the comment about the women’s heels. i understand the kind of genre blending they’re after, but it just doesn’t strike the right tone for me. maybe a bit too chunky (even factoring in what i perceive the intent to be)?

    and, i completely agree that their working method is fantastic to see. yes, you can see their hand in the final product (although i’m not sure how you can measure whether it could ‘only’ be produced by this company), but you see it more of a statement in millimeters, not image alone. you might not do a double take the first time you look at them, but they are distinctive.

  • fBot

    Good call Eloise!

  • hamilton

    Sports coupe design in gorgeous leather. Honestly the side view beckons a test drive.

  • Dezeen – beautiful and interesting – as always :-)

  • SerenaTrab

    @ Curvy
    Try and have a look at Ferragamo: you can find many books about shoes (from the past and not only) and their manufacturing.

  • SerenaTrab

    Try and have a look at Ferragamo: you can find many books about shoes (from the past and not only) and their manufacturing.

  • Markus lx.

    I like Eloise’s discusion above- It is a good point about Doshi and Levien’s engagement with old craft knowledge. good work.
    It reminds me of another project I saw on Dezeen by Commonwealth and Josh Davis-

    I think that for that, Commonwealth worked with a traditional porcelain maker, but ultimately took a Rapid Prototyping model to for them to make molds from. That is next level, and very contemporary way of engaging the knowlege of crafts people.

    Good discusions on dezeen!

  • pp

    Look at the book by Lazlo Vass about shoes

  • filippo zampa


  • Babiu

    Please I need help on how to finish a bag edge to give it the glossy nice finish as in belt and the faux edge of a strap. Thanks (