Footwear Design Management Master Class III - Data Design


At The Footwearists we are continually asked to consult on new technologies to make the design process faster, easier and more sustainable, but over and over again we experience that merely adding these technologies is never the real solution! Unless the underlying - often outdated - design system and its organisational structure are adapted as well, innovative technologies will only make product development even more complicated, wasteful and expensive. 


However, old habits die hard and especially for large multi-national companies it is not even possible nor desirable to disrupt their entire system at once. 
This is why we are introducing a new series of one-day footwear design management master classes that help structure, plan and implement the transition towards a future-proof design system that is more sustainable, fully digital and prepared for big data applications. These classes are aimed at design directors, product managers, manufacturers and anybody else who is involved in product development at a senior or executive level. 


There are three classes in total: Responsible Design, Digital Design and Data Design. These can be followed separately or as a complete course. This is why we organize the three days in a row at various locations around the world (see below for details on dates and places). You can choose to follow one of these open classes, or we could provide them at your company, tailored to your situation and to your management team!

Data Design

Imagine that as a designer you are no longer required to draw designs manually, not even in a 3D software package, because a computer does it for you, based upon all kinds of data, such as social media content of influencers, demographic data, sales figures of your company and its competitors, weather patterns, shoes from your brand archive etc. 

All you have to do is to analyse which data needs to be entered into the system and to direct how that data is then applied to generate a series of optimal designs - in terms of aesthetics, comfort, price, quality etc - that you and/or your consumer can choose from. This is what we call generative design.


Sounds like total science fiction or horror to you? Think again, because this is already happening! Just look at all the complex lattice structures that we find in 3D printed soles for brands like Adidas, New Balance and Under Armour. These are not drawn by designers, but generated by software systems, using data on fit, weight, activity, material etc. 

Also, as manufacturing is going ever faster, design will have to speed up as well. If a shoe can be made in a matter of minutes, the design can no longer take days, or even hours to make. That is why companies are looking to automate the design process, yet without jeopardising creativity. Therefore we need designers to be actively involved in creating these generative systems and that is what we are aiming to do on this final day of our Footwear Design Management course! 


This day is mainly meant for creatives that are already quite advanced when it comes to digital design and for people that have a leading role in innovation and R&D. We can also greatly recommend this day for technology providers that are aiming to make any kind of generative design software. 


Many designers are afraid that their jobs will be taken over by computers, and in a way, this could be true. On the other hand, generative design opens up fantastic creative possibilities that never existed before, but as you can understand, it will drastically change the entire design process, as well as the skill set that is required of designers and creative directors. We have broken down the necessary attributes of 21st century designers into four parts:


1. Understanding the role of data

We will start the day with an inspiring and informative presentation on generative design, explaining how far along the technology is now and where it will head in the near future. This is followed by a first brainstorm about how generative design could potentially improve footwear.


2. Collecting the data

Designers currently already use all kinds of data in their creative process, but this mainly happens intuitively. Most of them have never consciously identified the data streams they actually use and certainly not with automation in mind. That is why we will do a series of systematic yet creative thinking exercises that help participants to analyse which data they think they would need to automate their design process into a more generative process and why. 

Doing this will also bring forward which potentially interesting data they might not use now, because they do not know how to collect it, but that could potentially be gathered by a computer system. 


3. Interpreting the data

People often confuse data with information. Just having piles of data is not enough; it will need to be analyzed in order to create useful information. This requires the system to look at the data from different perspectives - technological, geological, demographical etc - to identify the larger patterns behind it. Designers often only analyse fashion trends based upon how they look, not based upon the bigger reasons behind them. As a renowned innovation forecaster, Nicoline van Enter, founder of The Footwearists, has been studying these bigger patterns behind fashion trends for many years. Using the "Think Again" macro trends forecasting game that she developed, she will have the participants open up their eyes to the long-term forces behind the fashion trends they see now and understand how an automated system could potentially provide them with much better trend analysis than they can have now.


4. Designing with data

We end the day with the most creative part, which is thinking about how to actually design shoes with the data that is analyzed into design information. Most designers are afraid that automating design will make their job boring and will make shoes look all the same. That is because they think the data that can be entered into an automated system is only numerical, like a spreadsheet. In the final round of exercises we will show how designers can add their own imagination into the system so it can multiply their own creativity in ways they could have never imagined.


If needed we will help participants who have created roadmaps in the previous days of the Footwear Design Management classes to add an extra layer about the road towards generative design. There will not be enough time to create a roadmap from scratch for participants that only follow this day though.

Course Details


All masterclasses in Footwear Design Management are taught by the two most senior consultants of the Footwearists: Nicoline van Enter's and Yassine Salihine. They have been consulting on innovation in product development for many leading brands around the globe and have combined all insights they gained in these classes! 


During the classes in China they are assisted by David Hsieh. The editions in Shanghai and Guangzhou focus on design management for the Chinese domestic market, which is structured differently from most other markets. These classes are suitable for both Chinese companies as well as foreign companies selling to China. The classes in Amsterdam and New York are focusing on all footwear markets in general.

Dates and locations: 

Hong Kong: April 6, 2019 (after PI apparel, this edition focuses specifically on design management for brands that sell to the Chinese market), this edition focuses specifically on design management for brands that sell to the Chinese market)

Amsterdam: May 15, 2019 (after our Footwear Waste Management course, this edition focuses on design management for international footwear companies)

Guangzhou: June 3, 2019 (after Guangzhou Shoes & Leather Fair, this edition focuses specially on design management for brands that sell to the Chinese market)

New York: July 26, 2019 (after FDRA's Sourcing & Sustainability Summit, this edition focuses on design management for international footwear companies)


The venues in each location will be determined based upon the number of participants per class, those will be announced no later than two months prior to the course dates.


Class duration: 9:00 - 17:30 (including one hour lunch break)


Level: advanced, this course is for senior management, such as design directors, VPs of product development etc.


Price for just this class: €599 per person. 

Two people from the same company pay only €1000 and three people from the same company pay only €1500. 


Package price for all three classes: if you want to follow all three Footwear Design Management classes we charge a price of €1500 per person.

Click here for more info on Responsible Design - Footwear Design Management I

Click here for more info on Digital Design - Footwear Design Management II


Included in the course price: all course material, coffee, tea and lunch


(All prices are excluding 21% VAT, if applicable. The course price is to be paid in advance).



Please fill out the form below to apply for this course. We will get back to you within 48 hours to let you know if your application has been accepted. For any questions, or in case of multiple applicants from one company, please email us at

We are also happy to provide you with a tailor-made offer to give this class at your company!