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Rhode Island School of Design Hosts Leather.Footwear.Futures


International symposium brings leather footwear experts to Providence


PROVIDENCE, RI – From Wednesday through Sunday, October 22–26, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) will host a series of workshops and discussions centered on the role of leather in the future of footwear. Called Leather.Footwear.Futures, the five-day symposium offers artisan workshops, international presenters, bespoke shoe exhibits and craftsmen working with new processes, historical traditions and innovative materials. The event is presented by RISD’s Division of Architecture + Design and is free and open to the faculty, students, industry experts and the public, with advanced registration required.

More than 200 participants are expected to attend from all over the world, comprising a group of people who share a passion and wealth of creative knowledge about both designing shoes and crafting leather.

The Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather Consortium of Tuscany and the Dutch Shoe and Materials school S.L.E.M. will run hands-on workshops featuring artisans demonstrating traditional and experimental leatherworking methods, dying and crafting techniques, and groundbreaking research into new materials.

“This will be an explosion from the many tiers of the shoemaking industry, leather industry and pioneered research of new materials,” notes Assistant Professor of Apparel Design Kathleen Grevers, who is coordinating the event. “The symposium includes a diverse group of speakers and workshops that we are pleased to bring to RISD to connect with our own artists and designers on campus.”

The Honourable Cordwainers’ Company (HCC), a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to the study, practice and preservation of traditional shoemaking, will hold its 30th Annual General Meeting during the symposium. HCC members are also presenting at the symposium. For instance, Val Povinelli, a journeyman shoemaker at the Colonial Williamsburg [VA] Foundation, will present Jack-boots Once the Property of Thomas Lord Fairfax – Research into and Recreation of his Boots and Rick Roman, of Romango Shoes, will deliver a talk entitled Some Practical Chemistry for Shoemakers.

“These influential creative group of makers will bring tremendous energy to RISD and a wealth of inspiration,” said RISD Interim Dean of Architecture + Design Nancy Skolos.

The symposium will also include a variety of related exhibits, including inspirational and technological shoes from three of RISD’s own shoemaking programs. Craft the Leather, a traveling collection of leatherworks, will be displayed at various locations on campus including the Fleet Library at RISD, the Apparel Design department at 189 Canal Street and the RISD Museum shop, RISD WORKS. The exhibit recently traveled to Tokyo and Italy. Selections from the exhibition In These Shoes, Bespoke Footwear in America, which includes handcrafted shoes by RISD alumna Daphne Board [BFA 1998 Textiles], and shoes from RISD’s own shoemaking courses will also be displayed across campus, including the RISD Museum risd|works storefront, Fleet Library, ID building (161 South Main Street) and Apparel Design department (189 Canal Street) during the symposium. 


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full list of presenters

complete schedule


About Rhode Island School of Design

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has earned an international reputation as the leading college of art and design in the United States. Recently ranked #1 in Business Insider’s survey of The World’s 25 Best Design Schools, approximately 2,400 students from around the world study at RISD, pursuing full-time bachelor’s or master’s degree programs in a choice of 19 studio majors. RISD is known for its phenomenal faculty of artists and designers, the breadth of its specialized facilities and its hands-on, studio-based approach to learning – one in which critical thinking informs making works by hand. Required courses in the liberal arts provide an essential complement to studio work, enabling graduates to become critical and informed individuals eager to engage with the world. Through the accomplishments of its 26,000 alumni, the college champions the vital role artists and designers play in satisfying the global demand for innovation. Founded in 1877, RISD (pronounced “RIZ-dee”) and the RISD Museum of Art help make Providence, RI among the most culturally active and creative cities in the region. For more information, visit or

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