Biomimicry Shoe by Marieka Ratsma
and Kostika Spaho

Biomimicry shoe by Marieka Ratsma

A bird's skull inspired the hollow heel of these 3D-printed shoes by Dutch fashion designer Marieka Ratsma and American architect Kostika Spaho.

Biomimicry shoe by Marieka Ratsma

Ratsma and Spaho used the shape of a bird's cranium for the front of the shoe, with the tapered beak as the spike of the heel.

Biomimicry shoe by Marieka Ratsma

The lightweight and efficient structure of the hollow skull allowed the shoe to be 3D-printed using less material.

Biomimicry shoe by Marieka Ratsma

Other 3D-printed shoes we've featured on Dezeen include 'invisible' and mirrored designs by Andreia Chaves and a bespoke pair by Marloes ten Bhömer.

Biomimicry shoe by Marieka Ratsma

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Biomimicry shoe by Marieka Ratsma

Photography by Thomas van Schaik.

Here's some more information from the designer:

The Biomimicry shoe is the result of a unique collaboration between Dutch fashion designer Marieka Ratsma and American architect Kostika Spaho. The idea for this shoe highlights the aesthetics and the shape of the bird skull, along with the characteristics of the lightweight and highly differentiated bone structure within the cranium. Such structure requires less support material, resulting in optimal efficiency, strength and elegance. Nature has been the main source of inspiration for the making and shaping of this shoe.

By looking at nature in a different way, she can open our eyes to ingenious systems and ways of life. Nature can inspire us towards inventive designs and productive, successful collaborations. Also for fashion, nature can be a great inspiration, especially for the use of materials and smarter constructions. Fast developing techniques such as 3D printing can help us by giving the possibility to approach nature’s shapes even more closely. Nature functions as no other in the use of sources, collaborations and bundling forces. The insight that nature gives us can be used for a new way of approaching design.

Posted on Tuesday July 17th 2012 at 2:02 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • dimitri

    This is utter ugliness!

  • While this may be inspired by shapes and structure from nature it would not qualify as bio-mimicry. They are using a design buzz-word that does not not actually apply. To be classified as Bio-mimicry it would have to make the experience of walking better by mimicking how walking is done in nature. I would classify this under “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should”

    • douglas

      I would classify this under “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should… n’t”.

  • This is not bio-mimicry as much as aesthetic mimicry. A bird’s beak does not bear weight on its tip so it makes little sense as an inspiration for a high heel which does bear weight on its tip. As I understand it bio-mimicry is about making things work like they do in nature, not making things look like they do in nature.

    • Laura

      Biomimicry is about taking inspiration from nature and reapplying it in design. It does not have to be like for like. For example Danish scientists have taken inspiration from how a giraffe controls its rate of blood flow from the heart to the head in order to stop the blood rushing.

  • Squinty


    This is what rapidprototyping is for – something that could not be made any other way (except by an exceptionally dedicated modelmaker).

    Absolutely love it. More please.

  • rosa

    Dalí + Gaudí + Manolo Blahnik

  • ftm

    Very very nice. Go away Dimitri.

  • Greenish

    Biomimicry is just the name folks – I don’t think they’re uninformed enough to suggest that that is literally what is happening here!

    On a tangent, it is time to repeat my regular complaint. PHOTOS OF THE SHOE ON AN ACTUAL FOOT PLEASE.

  • Sana Bilal

    Okay I get the “biomimicry” reference but seriously where is the beauty in this piece?

  • Christopher Loh

    Someone stepped in a whole lot of gum.

  • Sultony

    I would say that this is an art object with a commendable sourced aesthetic. But it fails as a shoe because it is impractical. The holes, which were designed in the original bird bone structure to hold muscle tissue, would collect dirt.

  • The manifestation of Cinderella’s shoe. Fragile, artificial and beautiful.

  • katyanok

    First, I am curious about the material and how it absorbs moisture. If it can be cleaned easily then dirt should not be an issue especially if the shoe is worn inside. Second, the purpose of a bird's skeletal structure is to keep it light enough so that it can fly and not necessarily withstand high pressure placed upon it. On the other hand because the shoe uses a lot of cavities and arches it makes sense that it will be able to withstand high pressure especially if it is designed accordingly.

  • cvduring

    If this was real biomimicry, why not lose the heel?

  • Joelma

    It’s like a design Gaudi.

  • Genesta

    Can you buy those shoes?