Theory of design thinking in the shoe

“To create meaningful innovations, you need to know your costumers.”

In this project, we used the theory of “Design Thinking” to design a shoe product. This theory has five principles which are: empathy, define, ideate, prototype, test. In this blog, I will explain how everyone of these principles was used.

Empathy is the centrepiece of a human-centred design process. It is expected that people who have things close to their heart, they like to talk about them. Therefore, to explore this empathy, my colleagues and I had walked around the campus and tried to talk to people wearing shoes of unique shapes. We wanted to know the if there were any reasons for choosing those shapes. Our questions explored the reasons for choosing that pair of shoes, place of purchasing, their advantages, and whether it was purchased online or in the store.

The aim of these questions was to understand the reason behind the shoe choice. In fact, this was to explore if people would’ve had any empathy towards their shoes.

The second principle for the Design Thinking is to define a meaningful and actionable problem statement. After interviewing many people and collecting their answers, these responses were discussed within our group. The main point of the discussion was on “the best features in people’s shoes”. One of the interviewees whose answers most attracted our attention was “Jen”.  Jen is a student from the Philippines. She was wearing a white pair of trainers which looks normal at the first instance. But when I asked her about a few letters seen on the back of the trainers, it was interesting to know that she managed to have the name of her boyfriend written. This was surprising for me as it is a strange way to show love for somebody.

The third factor of the Design thinking theory is Ideate, which means to concentrate on the generating ideas backing the product. During our group discussion, we talked about the feeling associated with certain features of the new design for the trainers. Therefore, we decided to make shoes that express the feelings of the person who is wearing them. This is by including faces, dates and letters which have personal meaning. We tried to follow the advice that in this type of design of a new product, we need to think by hand (not by head as widely known).

After then, we designed the prototype which is the iterative generation of artefacts intended to answer questions that get you closer to the final product.After long discussion within our team about the possibilities, ideas and opinions, we built a prototype of shoes called (expressive shoes). It expresses the state of the person. We made a few shoes in different colours and then worked on several expressive aspects that reflect the person’s conditions, names and dates.

Finally, we had to test our products which is a chance to refine them and make them better. To do so, we introduced our products with some explanation to other colleagues in the class. Overall, most of the opinions received were supported for our approach and for the product itself. Through this exercise, I learned how we could put the theory of “Design Thinking” into practice to get an attractive product. It made me appreciate the team work to obtain abetter outcome.


I believed in saying, “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal” Albert Einstein.

I am Elham from Saudi Arabia.I studied a Bachelor of Arts and then worked in the management sector for about seven years. I love challenges, and I find them the best way to make me a better informed person. At the same time, I like to help people who have difficulties. While I am happy to help them overcome their problems, I learn from these challenges good lessons for me.

My First Blog Post…

Last month, I started studying a Master of Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at Kingston University, London. One of the modules I chose to attend is “Design Thinking for Start-ups”. As part of this course, my first attendance was with the University at “A Hackathon with Surrey County Council”. I engaged with a number of my colleagues in designing a small project. Its main aim was to support students who come to study in the UK. It is well known that many of the newcomer’s struggle to adapt to life in a new place, especially when it is such a great and big city like London. Our partner in this project was Surry City Council. Therefore, we aimed for producing a list of tips and ideas to help those students understanding the new society values and culture of Surry. 

During this experience, we exchanged views and learned from those who have more experience in this field. While we were meeting on our project in the Council, we met a group of Surrey. It was remarkable that they organised many interesting events about integration. Most projects had benefits with people but learning from them about the challenges of new arrivals is crucial. (I think the new access may be in a similar situation for refugees at some points.) The staff of the Surrey Council had ideas and gave us some valuable advice on our project.

This small project has made me better appreciate the “Teamwork”. During the planning and executing of this project, I was teaming up with five of my colleagues. I learned many new ideas from everyone, and I hope I was able to benefit them from my experiences. Through dialogue among us, we were able to plan our project and came up with many innovative ideas. The team members were from different cultures. This had enriched our discussions and made the suggestions for our project suitable for students from different backgrounds. This experience has made me realise that working in a team saves time and energy of the members.

Furthermore, it makes the road to achieve the aim more enjoyable compared to working alone. I strongly believe that teamwork spirit is a factor that I will ensure to have as a part of all my future management experiences. To sum up, I will keep looking for new challenges but simultaneously, I will ensure having inspiring teammates.  

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