Shoe Quarter


Schoenenkwartier – or Shoe Quarter in English – is a permanent exhibition in Waalwijk, the Netherlands. Waalwijk is the birthplace of the Dutch shoe industry, so it’s only fitting that the local council invest in the re-imagination of the monumental Kropholler-complex. Now home to a new shoe museum, maker’s lab, and learning centre. The Schoenenkwartier is housed over three floors and includes three themes: making, meeting, and mesmerising. Following the lead of design agency Tinker, YIPP created a series of playful interactives. Including creative shoe design, skilled stitching, and discovering shoe styles throughout history and the world. For this project, YIPP extensively researched the ins and outs of shoe making. Visitors become bonafide cobblers and footwear designers as they discover and play throughout the museum.

A historical craft in a monumental building

From the moment visitors enter the light and spacious monumental building in Waalwijk, they are greeted by enormous machines involved in the shoe-making process. From tanning and working the leather to modern mass-production machines, the structures are surrounded by background stories, videos projections, tactile corners, and immersive interactives.
Each of the interactives combines historical and technical accuracy with playfulness. For this project, YIPP picked the brains of footwear experts. Their contribution to the exhibition results in a perfect blend of fact and fun.

Become a bonafide shoe-designer

Just like the real-life shoe-designing process, visitors start at ‘Design your dream shoe’. First creating a moodboard based on preferences. Then tweaking a 3D shoe to be anything from sleek minimalist to over-the-top maximalist. The sketch-inspired visuals will make you feel like a real shoe designer. Then it’s on to ‘Pattern making’, where you’ll discover how to cut out your pattern pieces in the most efficient way. Once the pattern is done, things get serious at ‘Stitching’. For this one-of-a-kind interactive, YIPP really challenges visitors’ coordination and skill as they sit down at a foot-operated sewing machine. Once the pattern pieces are sewn together, visitors are invited to record their shoe in ‘My Shoe’ – another interactive unique to the Schoenenkwartier. Record your shoe in the booth and upload it to the database. Want to see what visitors before you designed? Use filters to search for ‘white sneakers’ or ‘all shoes designed by 0-20 year olds’. Over time the database will fill – what trends will we discover?

From the history books to Beyoncé’s boots

Curious where modern-day shoe shapes and designs come from? Explore shoe fashions throughout history and around the world. Both through interactives and the extensive Schoenenkwartier collection. You might even spot a famous pair or two, such as Beyoncé’s boots or platforms worn by the Spice Girls. Always wanted to know what parts make up a shoe – and how one style differs from another? The ‘Exploded Shoe’ does what it says; exploding iconic models layer by layer. From footbed to toecap, can you recognise all the parts? If you’re considering a career as a cobbler or simply fascinated by footwear, then a visit to Schoenenkwartier should be your next stop.

Do you want to know more about the Shoe Quarter or can we help you with a similar project? Please contact Wouter Verbiest (wouter.verbiest@yipp.nl).