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MIAD Industrial Design senior designs orthopedic shoes for people with diabetes

Samuel Joseph

Samuel Joseph ’19 (Industrial Design)

MILWAUKEE (April 25, 2019) Fueled by his lifelong passion for footwear design and inspired by two classmates with diabetes, Samuel Joseph ’19 (Industrial Design) has designed a new orthopedic shoe for diabetics.

“As I researched diabetic and hybrid dress shoes, and talked with people with diabetes, they were saying they felt like they looked old when they wore orthopedic shoes. But, the better-looking shoes weren’t supportive,” said Samuel. “If diabetics don’t take care of their feet they can have nerve damage.”

Samuel’s design is on view at the MIAD Senior Exhibition, April 19 – May 11, 2019, in MIAD’s Galleries, 273 E. Erie St., Milwaukee. The MIAD Senior Exhibition is generously sponsored by BMO Harris Bank.

MIAD alum Ryan Butts ’15, a footwear designer at the Weyco Group, Inc., mentored Samuel throughout the project. Ryan taught Samuel about the research process, understanding the market and costs involved, and how to let empathy for the users drive the design.

“In Sam’s case, he saw a problem with a lot of footwear in today’s market and found ways to solve it. It’s become a great styling exercise and a great way to understand a consumer’s mind and needs because everyone’s different,” Ryan said. “Sam quickly realized that in order to solve these issues, there was a lot to take into consideration.”

Applying technology to footwear design

Samuel’s main goal is to create comfortable, orthopedic footwear that is fashionable and trendy for people in their 20s to 40s.

“I want to uplift people’s personalities,” said Samuel. “I don’t think people should have to sacrifice comfort to look good and vice versa. I learned that insurance sometimes only covers the diabetic shoes. I hope to try to get insurance companies to consider covering this shoe, too.”

Samuel is creating the prototype for his shoe using equipment in the college’s 3D Lab to make the shoe sole and new Consew Post Arm Industrial Sewing Machine in the Textiles Lab to sew the shoes together.

“The new sewing machine is meant for sewing shoes together. I can make the shoe on campus now and not have to seek out those machines elsewhere,” Samuel added.

Realizing a lifelong passion

Samuel’s passion for footwear design began long before he attended MIAD. He grew up in New York, graduated from high school in Hiram, Ga., and has loved shoes since childhood. As the oldest of seven siblings – three of whom wore about the same shoe size – Samuel said his family couldn’t afford many different pairs of shoes.

“My art teacher recommended I design and make my own shoes,” he said. “I’ve wanted to do his since middle school. I want to make people feel good about themselves.”

Samuel’s MIAD education has been made possible through his hard work and through scholarships.

Ryan has noticed Samuel’s determination to succeed. “His ability to reach out, and Uber to the office to sit down with myself and five other designers impressed me. It’s not easy to come face to face with professionals, present your findings and ask questions.”

Samuel’s Senior Exhibition project is helping to open doors for him, and realize his dream of designing footwear.

The MIAD Senior Exhibition is free and open to the public. MIAD’s Galleries are open Monday – Saturday,
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. The MIAD Senior Exhibition Opening Reception is Friday, April 26, 5 – 9 p.m. The MIAD Senior Exhibition is generously sponsored by BMO Harris Bank.


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