ITW⎜Cesar Idrobo on How it feels creating Sneakers through Design Algorithms


in brief

As a seasoned designer, Cesar Idrobo gives away in this interview the perks of Algorithms-aided Design, a design technique that might allow designers to overcome the limitations of traditional CAD software and 3D modelers, thus creating a tremendous shift in the creatives daily lives.

« I want to be a collage that can bring unique outcomes to the table. » Cesar Idrobo

Cesar Idrobo is a designer with an authentic passion for creative exploration. As a SCAD alumni and design professional specialized in footwear development, he has had multiple heterogeneous experiences, from Industrial design (at KOHL’S) and Service Design & User experience (at BMW), to Footwear, first as an Apprentice for Marcell Mrsan making traditional footwear, a Designer for Android Homme and then a Footwear developer for YEEZY adidas. With a constant will to overtake the limits of his fields studies and a hunger for new things, Cesar focusses now, as a freelancer, on exploring an uncharted territory: Algorithms-aided design.

This movie was brought up at work back then because Mr. West likes it, so I finally decided to watch AKIRA. I was very intrigued by the main character’s red motorcycle (bottom left). “What If we imitate the bike’s iconic mechanism in a shoe concept?” I asked myself. I borrowed design elements such as circular shapes and using @adidasy3 hardware (top right) which gives the concept an edge. I’ve been sketching on 18×24 pieces of IKEA paper because it allows me to fully explore an idea while keeping a decent real scale. It takes longer, but it’s worth it. #footwear #design #shoes #akira #anime #sneakers #sketch #drawing #illustration #art #sketching #sneakerhead #concept #markers #motorcycle #nofilter #igdaily #sundayfunday #sunday #portland #oregon #pdx #work #showyourwork #portfolio #story #photooftheday #illustration @sneaker_frame @sneakerfreakermag @sneakersnstuff @sneakernews @conceptkicks @wheatcitysole @hypedstreets @complexpop @kithfootwear @sketch.kicks @ikeausa @ikeatoday @copicmarker @designsketch @_design_inspiration @rooyfootwear @instill_design @everydaydesignuk

Une publication partagée par Cesar Idrobo (@cidrobo) le

In short, Algorithms-aided Design (or AAD) is an innovative field which goes beyond the use of computer to design architecture and objects. It allows designers to overcome the limitations of traditional CAD software and 3D modelers, reaching a level of complexity and control which is beyond the human manual ability. While there aren’t any specific footwear programs currently in the works, innovation teams from Nike, Under Armour and Adidas are rumoured to be experimenting with this technique through architecture programs.

To Cesar, as an autodidact, this has come as a mean to experiment how far he could improve his very own creative process:

« This has proven to be a great tool that not only gives more agility to design development, saving designers a lot of time, but also enables us to create new styles that only computers can generate, far exceeding the human hand. » Cesar Idrobo

While not accessible to everyone yet (only a few are fully knowledgeable of this tool, so it’s not yet really scalable in the footwear industry), AAD also has cost saving virtues. Indeed, this design technique leaves no room for errors, allowing to create technically perfect models and greatly assisting designers by limiting the need for prototypes at an early stage of the development process, bringing the concepts to life faster and easier in 3D.

« I don’t know if it’s available for scale yet, considering that today Sneakers with 3D printed soles created with AAD tools can end up costing around 400$ a pair. Compared to other shoes selling right now to a high scale on the market, such as Nike’s VaporMax, the price point for 3D printing technology seems to remain too high to attract large groups of consumers. » Cesar Idrobo

Without grasshopper, it takes more time and the aesthetics are not as closed and precise as what what algorithms generate in matter of minutes.

Such a shift in the design process means that rather than starting with a sketch and then generating a 3D model, professionals using these tools can now start with a 3D model straight from the beginning. Something that goes along well with Cesar’s agile creative process.

An example of what you can create using algorithms in a matter of minutes and can be easily adjusted

« I strip out problems, brands, people’s experiences to its main core. This helps me connect the dots by asking questions and testing ideas quickly. » Cesar Idrobo

An example of what you can create using algorithms in a matter of minutes and can be easily adjusted


Beyond Footwear, such technique could prove interesting in another key fashion area that requires less input at the beginning of their development: Handbags. A product category that represents a real opportunity for Cesar, especially through the use of AADs techniques.

« The next step for me would be to keep learning the program. I’d like to develop bags, which are less complex than footwear, with algorithms-aided designed exclusive prints. »

Follow this link to learn more about Cesar Idrobo’s work and a better understanding of how far Algorithm-aided Design can bring creative minds. :)

There's always more to discover. Subscribe to our newsletter to explore the unfound.