, Atelier Luma

OPEN CALL: Delta Sandals / Atelier Luma Egypt

Supported by Luma Arles in collaboration with Industrial Modernization Center (IMC).

October 2020 - October 2022

Project description

Atelier Luma and Industrial Modernization Centre will collaborate in a new project following up the Algae Lab workshop that took place in Egypt in 2018. That workshop led to fruitful knowledge exchanges and to the production of a wide range of objects combining craft and 3D printing with algae bioplastics that draw on cultural archives from the Egypt Historical Museum.

This new iteration is part of the Mediterranean Design Program of Atelier Luma, which focuses on how Mediterranean wetlands can be used to support local economies and wetland communities in a responsible way. The project explores, for instance, algae resources and agricultural waste in natural, urban and industrial landscapes and develops innovative material solutions such as bioplastics, vegetable leather, serigraphy ink and natural dye. Atelier Luma’s algae materials have received the New Material Award 2018.

The follow-up project between Atelier Luma and IMC is a 2-year collaboration and will focus on Ramsar wetlands. The collaboration will consist of, at first, the organisation and implementation of a design research project around algae, rice straw and bio-based footwear in Egypt.

Egypt has a long tradition in woven footwear. Flip flops or slippers were first invented in Ancient Egypt and date back to 1500 BC as demonstrated on the walls of the tombs of pharaonic civilisation. Originally they were produced out of bio-based materials such as palm leaf, grass, papyrus, or animal leather. Nowadays, the low cost of the ethylene-vinyl acetate (a toxic non biodegradable copolymer) and the easy production process make this material a choice for disposable footwear that contributes to land and water pollution. The Delta Sandals project reconsiders the social, cultural and environmental impacts of footwear production and related knowledge.

Open call – Delta Sandals Research

This open call focuses on the first phase of the project (see Schedule), which will take 3 to 6 months (October - March 2020). We are looking for the following Egypt based designers and specialists to fulfill the following profiles:

1 Material engineer/designer

We are seeking 1 PhD student or freelancer with a background on material engineering or material science and a demonstrable interest in/knowledge of design with biomaterials such as algae, chitosan, rice straw, and other plant fibers. Under the artistic/technical direction of Atelier Luma, you will work on:

  • Exploring, processing and engineering bio-based materials for shoe manufacturing and made from raw materials sourced in Egypt.
  • Bio-based soles for sandals, made from algae based bio-foam and algae based bioplastic.
  • Creating woven samples for the upper shoe from bio-based yarn.
  • Translating shoe designs to manufacturing processes.

1 Prototyper

We are seeking a designer with a demonstrable affinity in design with injection moulding processes, 3D printing and/or other manufacturing techniques as well as good skills in drawing and 3D rendering. Under the artistic/technical direction of Atelier Luma, you will work on:

  • Bio-based soles for sandals, made from algae based bio-foam and algae based bioplastic.
  • Creating woven samples for the upper shoe from bio-based yarn and/or rope.
  • Translating shoe designs to manufacturing processes.

Shoe designers

We are seeking designers with a background/experience on footwear design and traditional and/or contemporary shoe crafts.

Each and all will be working on:

  • Cross-cultural exchange on alternative ways of design, production and distribution of footwear and the related knowledge.
  • Testing and prototyping with the developed and locally sources bio-based materials in collaboration with an international footwear designer.
  • Working with social crafts clusters.


The selected designers and specialists will take part in Atelier Luma Egypt and work under the supervision of Atelier Luma Research Director and designer Henriette Waal in a multi-disciplinary team and in co-operation with other (international) design experts. The team will develop the first collection and production system for bio-based footwear design and manufacturing made in Egypt, and aim to challenge traditional creative processes.

The research will involve the following clusters:

Raw material

Fieldwork research, material sourcing, material research, processing and engineering.

Focus areas: Algae, rice straw, vegetable protein, chitosan (natural polysaccharide from shrimp shells)


Developing woven material samples and prototypes from rice straw and other bio-fibers.

Development of sole and insole making from algae material, costumedmoulding of parts.

Development of the shoe experience in mock-up prototypes and 3D renderings.

Shoe design & production

Idea sketches, model drawings, shoe last development, material combinations, color pallet, analyzing existing shoe production and distribution processes and repurpose them, connecting traditional crafts to innovation, developing new shoe designs tapping into cultural archives and existing trends.

Work methodology

The project starts with a one-day exploratory kick-off workshop in Egypt with designers, crafts clusters and creative companies. The objectives of the project for each and all participants will be set at this stage. The workshop follows a collaborative approach and involves a presentation on new biomaterials and alternative footwear production and distribution, design sessions and hands-on experimenting and testing. Aftertwomonths,with weekly milestoneswe will have produced working prototypes of footwear.

A development stage of the prototypes will follow, fulfilling technical specifications and certifications requirements. Atelier Luma will coordinate regular (skype) virtual meetings and presentations. Phase one will end with a conclusive workshop and (public) presentation in February/March. All stages of the design, research and development process will be documented and filmed.


You are expected to send a Curriculum Vitae, portfolio and a video motivation/pitch (maximum 2 minutes) to the following address(es) before October 5, 2020:

hwaal@luma-arles.org and nhelmy@luma-arles.org

The video pitch should include general information about your experience and your interest in at least one of the focus clusters, such as knowledge in one of the materials, specific production knowledge/experience or relevant local network of makers. In addition, we want to see a description of your personal vision to define the relevant / innovative side of the Delta Sandals project, and how you can add value to it. You can as well do a suggestion for parties to collaborate with.

For any questions, please contact us:

Nermin Helmy, Project Coordinator, Atelier Luma

nhelmy@luma-arles.org +20 100 199 7360

Important information on schedule/responsabilities/compensation/ownership

Écrit par Henriette Waal