The exhibition that asks, “Are shoes from heaven or hell?”


Showcasing over 100 pairs of remarkable footwear, the new Heaven or Hell exhibition at the Cube design museum in Kerkrade, Holland, is set to prove that shoes have to be one the most sophisticated parts of fashion design.


With various fashion weeks taking place all over the world, the new Heaven or Hell exhibition at the Cube design museum highlights the needs that shoes can fulfil and how shoe designers tap into this market. Displaying a range of shoe types – from iconic pieces, current and past products, and new innovations – the exhibition is set to be an extraordinary look into the world of shoe fashion.

Coveting stilettoes, ballerina shoes, wedges, sneakers and flipflops, the Cube design museum asks whether these shoes are “heavenly, or from hell?”, which has given the exhibition its name. Curated by Elisabetta Pisu, the Heaven or Hell exhibition will runs until the 2nd of September 2018 within the Cube design museum – which is Holland’s first museum that is entirely dedicated to the world of design.

Investigating the way that way that meaningful design makes an impact on the world, the Cube design museum is perfectly placed to display the exhibition. Findings by the museum showed that 95% of Dutch women feel more confident when wearing a pair of beautiful shoes, with an average of having 23 pairs of shoes in their wardrobes.

In line with this research, the Heaven or Hell exhibition includes 100 pairs of special shoes, but not all of these are high heels – the display also showcases shoes that have been designed for ease of use, including pairs that contribute to foot well-being and easy movement. Interestingly, these shoes have become iconic in their own right over the years for a range of reasons, including becoming the symbols of subcultures, or portraying informal and active lifestyles.

Examples of these iconic, easy-wearing shoes includes a display of Dr. Martins – which have now made waves in the fashion worlds but were previously the go-to shoe for punks worldwide. Converse sneakers also get a mention at the exhibition, which have been on the market for over 100 years – and have been worn by everyone from basketball players to wealthy businessmen.

As the exhibition suggests, “shoes are pre-eminently a means of self-expression and the choice for certain footwear contributes to the image we want to create for ourselves.” With this in mind, one of the largest sections of the exhibit is on the shoes worn over the years by celebrities, or those designed by renowned, international stylists.

Celebrity shoes at the Heaven or Hell exhibit includes pairs worn by Marilyn Monroe, Lady Gaga and Naomi Campbell; meanwhile, iconic samples from designers including Jimmy Choo and Vivienne Westwood have also been featured. To pay homage to its country’s home-bred designers, the Cube design museum is also exhibiting designs by ten Dutch creatives.

Two other elements of the Heaven or Hell exhibition are the areas on ‘future shoes’ and ‘sustainable shoes’, which include shoes made from new technological and innovative materials, or those made with sustainable, raw materials. These designs include shoes created by architect Zaha Hadid – the NOVA shoe for United Nude – and a prototype of a shoe made by banana peels.

Asking questions of how shoes make such an impact on the design world and our everyday lives, Heaven or Hell is set to be a very thought provoking exhibition indeed. But – as is the philosophy of the Cube design museum – the decision as to whether these extraordinary pieces come from heaven or hell is entirely your choice.  

All images courtesy of Cube design museum.

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