The initial inspiration for the DIO shelf came from the Memphis group. They used the colors and patterns of pop art as their contemporary reference to break away from the prevailing modernism at the time and create something fun and playful. I wanted to find my own contemporary reference and apply it to a piece of furniture to break away from the minimalism that, for me personally, translates to being given an excuse to use pre-approved shapes and solutions. Very seldom breaking new grounds or contributing to the expressive genre of design I find essential stimulating environment. To do so I found my contemporary reference in the expressiveness of the sneakers aesthetics. I decided to materialize my Memphis-inspired approach in the form of a shelf as a wink to Ettore Sottsass Carlton shelf, as well as the sneaker stores display stands. 

I started off by defining what I consider to be the elements defining sneaker aesthetics. I did so by workshops where I built picture banks and used them for exponential word association. from the hundreds of words boiled it down to the ten most frequently occurring words, acting as representatives of my subliminal view of what sneaker aesthetics is. I used these ten words to base my decision-making on throughout the process, and by sketching freely on them one by one, I picked up elements to incorporate into the shelf.

I played with the idea of putting a sole on a piece of furniture as it is the part of the sneaker where shape and geometry are mostly incorporated. By adding soles in different constellations on a piece of furniture I could pinpoint the qualities I was looking for in such soles.


A problem with building a piece of furniture with a sole is the sustainability concern when molding a complex geometry of that scale as the materials often used for those kinds of tasks are not to be considered viable. I started searching for materials that could check the boxes of being able to cast complex geometries on a big scale, as well as being environmentally defendable.

I wanted to imitate and develop the positive trend in the sneaker industry of adding a share of granulated waste material when casting the sole of the sneaker by examining the recycled rubber granulate as the principal material when casting. 

I found material in the development stage, primarily used for stop-blocks at airports to be a perfect candidate. The material consists of 98% recycled granulated rubber held together with a binder that acts as glue. This makes it possible to re-granulate the sole and re-mold it.

The shape of the sole was a key feature that took a lot of processing. Early on I considered sneaker ecstatic to be an organic and wild one, but I later realized that it’s rather an extremely calculated and precise piece of engineering. By using cad software and a “sun feather” of angels being multiples of themselves as a template, I could generate a variety of shapes with different aesthetics based on the same “math”. 

When the final shape was decided, a styrofoam plug for molding was CNC-milled to cast the mold around. The mold was filled with the granulate mixture resulting in a solid rubber block, owning its weight of 80 kilos to stabilize the shelf. 

For the weight carrying part of the shelf, I decided on aluminum is the perfect material.  It owns recycling properties and is well suited for strong and lightweight design solutions. It also enables anodization as a coloring method that keeps the aluminum-free from lacker or other surface treatments. I wanted to achieve a gradient dyeing on the extruded aluminum profiles by an experimental anodizing technique to create a shifting transition, from the expressive design language and material of the foot to the shelf crisp form.

The shelves were laser cut in two parts from a 4 mm thick aluminum sheet. They were pushed into cut grooves on each side of the profile and meet in the middle where the sheet is bent. The bend provides stability and a surface to join the two pieces of the shelves in. By adding them I could also avoid the addition of a component whose only function would be to support the shelves.

The combining of the two shelf parts is done with a cylinder with two grooves on each side of the shaft allowing locking rings to secure the planes against each other. The choice to deviate from conventional fastening methods, such as bolt and nut or pop rivet, was made not to disturb the crisp expression in the aluminum part of the shelf as exposed bolts would bring to mind mechanical structures.

The result is a shelf that offers the possibility of open placement in a room as a room divider or sculpture. The shelf has not been built without any permanent joints so as to be easily disassembled when moving or recycling. Since the extruded profiles, when immersed in the foot, are retained by only a press fit, it is easy for two people to lift the entire shelf part as a unit when moving instead of separating all the shelf components.

Published in Furniture & Object

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