CIRRUS is a Nordic-Baltic network of Art and Design higher education. There are 20 excellent art and design schools from the Nordics and the Baltics in the circle of this cooperation. The central activities of the partner institutions are art and design, including innovative activities, technical development and artistic practices.

Nordplus Intensive course, summer 2024 in Estonia – Low-tech Footwear Techniques Inspired by Heritage

Intensive course, summer 2024 in Estonia –
Low-tech Footwear Techniques Inspired by Heritage

Deadline for applying: June 25, 2024 → Apply here. The participating applicants will be notified by the latest June 27, 2024.
Additional questions about the content of the course: Kristiina Nurk 
Practical information, including payments of the grants to selected students: Hedi Meigas

Dates: August 18 – 26th, 2024.
Grant: 400 EUR (330 EUR travel to Estonia (Iceland 660 EUR)+ 70 weekly allowance, not eligible for students at EKA)
Seats: 12 (8 international and 4 Estonian students)
Level: BA and MA


Simone Springer – CEO and footwear designer at Rosa Mosa (Austria)
Kristiina Nurk – footwear lecturer, Dept. of Accessory Design, Estonian Academy of Arts
Meelis Kihulane – the Estonian heritage woodworker
Katre Pärn – semiotician, University of Tartu and a founder of cultural heritage center “Avinurme Ajavakk”  Academic CV.

Kristiina Nurk – Coordinator, Dept. of Accessory Design, Estonian Academy of Arts
Hedi Meigas – Financial Coordinator, Faculty of Design, Estonian Academy of Arts

The purpose of the course is to teach how to hack low-tech footwear making techniques, to remove complexity from shoe production by devolving the process inspired by heritage crafts. During the first part of the  course we will critically observe the past of manufacturing processes and cultural heritage of the Lake Peipsi district focusing on woven objects like carpets, basketry and “local indigo” printing techniques as an inspiration and a material gathering phase for footwear upper making. In the second part of the course we will carve out our own unique footwear soles by hand. Last part of the course will be focused on alternative upper making techniques in combination with assembly of the readymade shoe. The core values of the course are curiosity, play, experimentation, embracing speculative and process driven design.

This course is an attempt towards keeping both craftsmen and labour in the area and making a collaborative act in a fertile manner – students absorbing the essence of forgotten techniques and skills, yet transforming it into contemporary footwear concepts with an internationally valid approach, apart from its well-known and everlasting traditional context.

Course objectives are:
The students are required to follow up the field trip with lectures, experimental workshop sessions, investigations and dialogue in the group through their mini-projects. The teams of 2 members are guided in learning-by-doing processes. Studies enhance design and heritage research, talks and discussions, and practical work with materials (50% theoretical and 50% practical work in workshops). The course is expected to expand the scope of sustainable and innovative thinking among participants, introducing new yet forgotten technologies and materials for everyday purposes. 

Course program:

DAY 1: Sunday, 18th Aug.:
Location: Tallinn
Arrival and welcome dinner.

DAY 2: Monday, 19th Aug.:
Location: Avinurme
Introduction to “Avinurme Ajavakk” Heritage Center (rep woven carpets) and splint basketry workshop in Avinurme.
Evening session: Free weaving session or visit to flax workshop.

DAY 3: Tuesday, 20th Aug.:
Location: Kolkja and Tartu.
Workshop: Dying fibres with “local indigo ” in Peipsimaa Heritage Center located in Kolkja.
Visit to the Estonian National Museum located in Tartu.

DAY 4: Wednesday, 21th Aug.:
Location: Võrumaa
Introduction to footwear sole carving workshop in Meelis Kihulane’s woodworking heritage school located in Võrumaa.
Additional lectures:
1) Plant fibres and woven seats by botanist Thea Kull.
2) History on wooden soled footwear by Kristiina Nurk. 
Evening sauna session: traditional Estonian Smoke Sauna (Unesco World Heritage).

DAY 5: Thursday, 22th Aug.:
Location: Võrumaa
Footwear sole carving workshop and a lecture “Introduction of middle European heritage techniques used at Rosa Mosa in footwear practice over 20 years” by Simone Springer.

DAY 6: Friday, 23th Aug.: 
Location: Tallinn
Footwear upper making workshops and introduction to tubular looms and other alternative footwear weaving kits. Tour in the Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn.

DAY 7: Saturday, 24th Aug.:
Location: Tallinn
Footwear assembly workshop.

DAY 8: Sunday 25th Aug.:
Location: Tallinn
Evaluation and farewell dinner.

DAY 9: Monday, 26th Aug.:
Location: Tallinn

PS: Participating in this nomadic course requires extensive commuting (private minibus) and might require sleeping in non-standard communal conditions (sleeping bag+ mattress).