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The faceted printed element in the design forms a platform sole and upper for the shoe, which is small enough to be printed at home rather than on a full-size or industrial machine. Hand-cut rubber toe and heal supports attach to this central element.
"We designed the shoe in three parts that just simply link into each other, forming the final product," said United Nude founder Rem D Koolhaas. "The fact that the shoe is made out of three parts actually adds to the design."
Koolhaas claims that the shoes can be worn and walked in, but he admits that they might not be as comfortable as conventional footwear. Instead, the project aims to highlight the potential of the technology for shoe design.
"Even though this shoe is wearable, I don't think it's to be compared with any more conventional shoes in regards to comfort, but that's also not the point of this design," explained Koolhaas.
"This design is about creating something beautiful and interesting, and it's about experimenting, moving forward and about learning."
The shoes will be launched during an event at the brand's New York flagship store later today.
They follow a string of designs by United Nude that are made using 3D printing technology.
"We have been using 3D printing for the product development of our shoes ever since our first shoes, dating back to 2001," said Koolhaas. "Since then we have seen a massive evolution in 3D printing."
The brand's collaborations with Van Herpen have included 3D-printed designs that resemble tree roots, as well as pairs with fangs for bases, platforms with spikes between the sole and heels, and crescent-shaped boots.
United Nude rose to prominence after releasing the radical Möbius Shoe in 2003, which Koolhaas discusses in an interview with Dezeen.
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