Sara Alvarez
Sara Alvarez ©

Sara Alvarez created recyclable shoes at Fabricademy

At Fabricademy, participants learn to work with innovative tools from the FabLab and Textile Lab. They develop their own products and conceptual designs in 6 months. In this series we talk to the graduates about their work and inspiration. First up: Sara Alvarez (ESP).

You have a background in telecom engineering and 3D printing, and you have a passion for textiles and fashion. An interesting combination! Are there links between these two fields? 
I definitely make use of the skills I already had, like being structured and systematic. But you sometimes have to break these skills to be creative and not stick to the rules. I have an engineering background and worked in this sector for a few years. But I decided to quit my job to explore my creative part. A befriended colleague pointed out Fabricademy. 

Why did you want to join Fabricademy to explore this creative part? 
The content of the course appealed to me. It’s practical, sustainable and I like the open source approach. It ticked a lot of boxes, especially because of the combination of technology with creativity. For the first three months, we explored a different topic every week: laser cutting, interpreting the digital bodies, learning about natural dyes, playing with fabrics and colors. 

Sara Alvarez
Symbiotic Shoes

Did you have experience with these tools already?
With 3D printing I had a lot of experience because of my former work. But laser cutting? Not so much! I learned properly how to use this tool during Fabricademy. It felt like a pressure cooking mode where you explore different topics very fast. I didn’t know anything about natural dying or about working with bioplastics and biofabrication beforehand, but I found it very interesting. In the future, I’d also like to look more into using bioplastics for my project. 

The last three months of Fabricademy you start working on your own project. What are you developing? 
During the course I discovered flexible 3D printing materials, and so I wanted to work more with that. It behaves like a fabric when you print it. I wanted to create a product with a classic look, and so I came up with shoes. Shoes are difficult to recycle. But if you shred the plastic, the material can be reused. The idea of Symbiotic Shoes is that you can hand them in, so I can create new shoes out of the material.  

Is there something that you would like to add for the course?
I’m already getting great help from my instructors to find funding, even though that’s not the goal of the course per se. It could also be nice to have some guidance to think about suitable jobs, towards the end of the course. Where do I start looking? Am I a designer? I have no idea. 

What are your next steps for Symbiotic Shoes?
I’d like to continue developing Symbiotic Shoes. I already found a company willing to recycle the material that I work with, because I lack the infrastructure to recycle the materials myself. This means I can collect the waste, they recycle it and now I have a proof concept of the shoes! The next step is to find funding to move forwards. I’m not sure yet if I want to sell the shoes, or to put the shoes out there so that they can be created in other Fab Labs.

Curious about Fabricademy? Take a look at the 5th edition of 2021/2022.




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This project has received funding from the European Commission under the H2020-DT-ICT-03-2020 call under Grant Agreement number 101006203.