Shoe Innovator Bryan Oknyansky
Award-winning architecture and women’s footwear designer, Bryan Oknayansky, has earned himself the reputation as a true shoe innovator.
He has achieved international success for his imaginative approach to design and research. Since 2010, Oknyansky has created a magnificent balance between fashion and architecture by debuting his collection of luxury high-heels, titled Heavy Metal Series. His revolutionary work has gained the designer international recognition. “Shoes by Bryan” was created with the goal of designing some of the globe’s most gorgeous and practical luxury shoe designs.
What initially attracted you to footwear design?
The underlying necessity for shoes to be structural and aesthetically pleasing. I dedicated the last decade of my life to just this challenge and it seemed like a great progression of my design career.
You have spent some time experimenting with manufacturing technologies. How have those experiments influenced your design strategy?
The success I’ve had in a relatively short amount of time is completely attributed to my experimentation with digital manufacturing technologies that are predominantly used by the automotive, medical, and aerospace industries. The machines I use to make my shoes cut out a big dependency on manufacturing partners to get ideas out and into material prototypes. It’s because I am manufacturer-independent that I was able to design and produce two collections of shoes to show at Fashion Weeks around the world in less than six months.
How has the collaboration with Berlin-based Haute Couture label Kimberit inspired you as a designer?
It’s safe to say that without Kimberit proposing collaboration I would not be where I am today as far as shoes go. The whole reason we met in the first place is because I happened to be in Berlin during the AW10 Fashion Week and only had time to visit one exhibit. I chose Kimberit’s because the story of her new collection was progressive and artistic beyond the confines of fashion design. Kimberit’s forward thinking inspired me to be bold and follow my dreams.
Share with us your favorite aspects of working in the fashion industry.
My favorite thing about “working in the fashion industry” is that I’ve long been interested in the human being as an art object but I was never working in a field where it was encouraged to be progressive about the look of people. The fashion industry provides a cultural framework for me to conceptualize and re-conceptualize women, as I design women’s luxury heels, and work to redefine the female figure in a “21st century and beyond” aesthetic.
Despite your international recognition, what have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as an architect and designer?
I don’t believe I’ve faced any challenges as an architectural designer. Clients and enthusiasts are able to quickly pick up on the architectural influence I bring to high heels. In a way, I feel it generates a sense of trust in that I am able to make cutting-edge heels that actually work.
Tell us a little bit about the inspirations behind your Heavy Metal Series.
Heavy Metal Series became the result of a conceptual brief designed by Kimberit. Their new collection Komment.02 explored the effects of twilight on flattening our perception of 3D space into 2-1/2D space. The inspiration to begin designing the shoes was mainly in designing a silhouette or 2D image that became 3D. When I finally designed Spider Heels and Caged Heels it became necessary to research cutting-edge manufacturing technology that could create them and surely it existed. From that point on, Heavy Metal Series was about the beauty of non-standard materials and their transformation through digital fabrication technology.
How was the Heavy Metal Series received at Berlin and Paris Fashion Weeks?
HMS was received well by all. Both Berlin and Paris Fashion Weeks saw 100% positive feedback. Many people asked why my shoes weren’t in a solo showroom which I understood as HMS is truly something new and original, something we should expect in terms of aesthetic and creativity in the 21st Century. Paris Fashion Week drew a larger crowd and was organized on a larger scale than the showroom the shoes showed at in Berlin. The shoes were shown in context with Kimberit’s Haute Couture collection and were appreciated for independently and in combination for being developed as a cohesive collaboration.
Was it ever difficult to find a harmonious balance between beauty, function and innovation?
Never. My ethos as a designer is only interested in producing works that are representative of all three of those things: beauty, function, and innovation. I’m not in the footwear design industry to ride the waves of trends and decorating off-the-shelf designs. I’m quite happy with my artistic brand riding my own trend-setting waves that inspire other designers to wake up and see that the art works we make for fashion can be conceived of at a higher level.
What is the future of Shoes by Bryan?
The future of Shoes By Bryan includes private commissions for custom footwear design and who know, maybe we’ll see Shoes By Bryan in high-end boutiques around the world as early as AW13
By: Robyn Alt