The Art of Shoes

Canvas, glass, walls. Artists use a myriad of materials on which to create their artistic vision, but innovator Kobi Levi’s artistic medium of choice is – well  –  shoes.  And his exhibition gallery is  feet. After graduating from the Bezalel Academy of Art & Design in Jerusalem about a decade ago, young Levi traveled the fashion cities of the world as a footwear designer in both large factories and small boutiques. Today, Levi has set up shop in his own studio in Tel Aviv, transferring the essence of daily objects into the shape of shoes.

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South Florida Opulence magazine sat down with Levi to discuss what inspires this creative modern-day cobbler.
“I started to design shoes when I was in high school, making them only from cardboard then,” said Levi. “Later I learned how to make them professionally and followed this vocation to make it into a living. My inspiration comes from daily objects and moments. I love to watch animals and birds in movement and capture the essence of their shapes. Their shapes and colors are so interesting and beautiful, and so I think anyone who likes beauty enjoys watching them. As shoes are my ‘design language,’ I take inspiration from these lovely creatures and dedicate my designs to them.”

Shoe-sational Inspiration
Levi says what triggers him to create a new piece is when an idea, a concept or an image comes to mind. By combining the image into the shape of footwear, he creates a new hybrid and the concept comes to life. 

“The piece is a wearable sculpture,” said Levi.  “It is ‘alive’ with or without the foot. Most of the inspirations are out of the ‘shoe-world, ‘ and give the footwear an extreme transformation. The result is usually humorous with a unique point of view about footwear.”

All of Levi’s pieces are handmadein his studio
“Every time I create a new design, it becomes my favorite, that is until it is replaced by the next one,” said Levi with a smirk. “Right now, my focus is on the new Ocean Series, which has the first men’s styles from my Footwear Art creations. I’m excited to see if people will love them and want to wear them.”

Fashion fame in a flash
So just how does this shoe designer fabricate the unusual fanciful shoes? “For the animal designs, I use whatever material is needed to get the perfect design. Usually I use leathers in different colors and finishes. I’m working on new bird designs on stiletto heels. Another design which is under way is my own take on a cheerleader!” said Levi.

Kobi’s near-instant worldwide fame developed virally through word-of-mouth on social and online media. Levi started a blog in 2010 to show his friends his designs without having to send them each a large email. The blog soon took on a life of its own. The Internet sensation crossed paths with Lady Gaga, who wore Levi’s double boot design in her “Born This Way” video. Today, his work is also on display in museums around the world.

Limited editions from Kobi Levi’s creations are available for custom order from his studio in Tel Aviv. For details, go to www.kobilevidesign.com.

Private: Arts & Design