Matthew Edwards engineers winning sneaker for South Africans without access to sports equipment

Emerging Joburg industrial designer Matthew Edwards is a firm believer in using design as a tool to solve problems in our communities. Matthew recently scooped first prize at the third edition of the Milano Montagna Vibram Factory Sport Design Competition 2017 for his project the TERA-03, an affordable multi-use sport shoe with a hybrid sole that allows people to play different sports, be it football, rugby, running, cycling or rock climbing.

Equipped with an Honours degree in industrial design and experience captaining UJ’s first football team, Matthew engineered the sneaker for South African communities that are without access to the correct sports equipment.

“It’s great knowing that the work I am doing is interesting to a global audience. Representing South Africa in these competitions is important in order to shed light on the obstacles we face but also to show our visual language to the world,” he says.

“South Africa has a lot of complex socio-economic problems as a result of colonialism and apartheid. This means as designers we have the responsibility to create change, to design South African products for South Africans,” he shares.

Design for repair informed his creative process. “South African communities generally have shoe repairers who fix shoes on the side of the road,” Matthew says about some of the elements, which informed the design of the shoe. The project includes the shoe repairer and their informal economy into the life cycle of the shoe. “I Interviewed a shoe repairer to better understand how to make shoes more durable but also make his job easier by incorporating his knowledge into the design,” he says.

Matthew plans to test his innovation in the South African market and challenge big sportswear brands who have a Eurocentric view in terms of design for climate and economy.

“Tera 0-3 is still at a concept phase and I would love to prototype and manufacture the product in order to test and improve the design. I hope to create a brand that will sell these products to the South African market in the future.”

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