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Building a Better Sandal

graphic of a sandal dissected into its parts
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Nothing says style quite like a Fort Rock Sandal with its distinct close-twined sole. At 9,300 years old, this rugged sagebrush bark footwear is a true classic.

Veronica Villhard ’19 was well aware of these sandals, and many others throughout human history, when she set out to design superior ones—at least better ones for slick surfaces. She graduated in May with a bachelor’s in outdoor product design and development, and now works in the footwear division for Under Armour. The unique USU program teaches students the process of creating new outdoor products from concept to prototype. In Villhard’s lengthy portfolio, one of her projects was to create a sandal with an outsole to better disperse water from under the foot.

Dissecting the Process

Starting from abstract, Villhard was inspired by:

Alpha Waves (9-13 Hz)

“Measurements of stress hormones, respiration, heart rate, and sweating suggests that short doses of nature—or even pictures of the natural world—can calm people down and sharpen their performance.” –Florence Williams

Waves turned into tributaries, islands, fish, and…

River Crampons

That led to ….

The Outsole 

The tributary, river, and mackerel fish combine to inspire an outsole design that allows for water to disperse from under the foot to make for a better grip on wet surfaces. This is where the sandal is made to perform.

And finally, the ultimate product…

A Prototype for Veronica Villhard’s “Mackerel” River Sandal

By John DeVilbiss
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