A couple of weeks ago, we went with Aki Choklat to Finnovations, a retrospective exhibition showcasing works from two of Finland's leading footwear designers: Aki himself and Julia Lundsten.
It was a very interesting evening and we got the chance to have a chat with Liza Snook, founder of the Virtual Shoe Museum and we couldn’t help but ask her a few questions about her unique project.
Liza Snook: I studied Graphic Design at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (NL). I'm a graphic designer by profession and worked for graphic and industrial design studios in the Netherlands for about 25 years. Ten years ago I started the Virtual Shoe Museum project next to my graphic work and two years ago I decided to stop my graphic work and go for the shoes a hundred percent.
Since when do you consider yourself a shoe lover?
Since I can walk. My mother used to wear beautiful, high-heeled Italian shoes and I always played with her shoes.
How did you come up with the idea of creating The Virtual Shoe Museum?
My partner Taco Zwaanswijk is a multimedia designer. Ten years ago the first online collections started. Due to my graphic background and fanatic collecting I gathered a big collection of shoe images in different forms: postcards, articles, advertisements, books etc. Taco created the website and I started to call the few shoe designers I knew for permission to add their shoes to our website.
How does the Virtual Shoe Museum works? Which criteria do you use to commission work and keep it on the shoe trend?
I search for shoes everywhere and I get in shoes from all over the world sent by the designers themselves, shoe lovers and artists.
Thanks to curating shoe exhibitions with various museum curators in different countries they also come up with new designers. I have a lot of friends who bring me crazy shoe items, and some of them teach shoe design and connect me to their talented students.
What makes the Virtual Shoe Museum so special and unique in the world?
I think the mix of design and art. To me these two perspectives in shoes work very well.
In the Virtual Shoe Museum everything I like to do comes together: my design background, my passion for art and shoes, meeting new people and connecting them, sharing this information via the website and creating publications or exhibitions.
We meet at FINNOVATIONS, an Independent Footwear Design Exhibition organised by the Finish Embassy around the work of Aki Choklat and Julia Lundsten. What were the highlights of the day?
Finding some great shoe designs by Aki and Julia and meeting up with old and new shoe design friends.
What do you think is coming up in terms of shoe trends?
For the selection of the shoes for the Virtual Shoe Museum I don't follow shoe trends. I just weigh if a new shoe matches and adds something to the online collection or not.
Looking back to when you founded the Virtual Shoe Museum, did you expect it to become as it is today?
Absolutely not. When I started this project in my spare hours ten years ago I never thought that my passion for shoes would turn into my daily life work. I never expected it would bring me so many international shoe projects and fantastic contacts with designers and artists. And certainly, not this number of opportunities to work together with great museums outside the Netherlands.
What are the challenges for the Virtual Shoe Museum in the future?
I will see where the shoes will bring me… I just want to continue finding and collecting shoes, create new exhibitions together with art professionals and inspiring shoe design students and shoe lovers.