Breaking The Mold: Ben Medansky x Koio SneakersAuthor:Abigail Stone
Ceramicist Ben Medansky is more than just a potter. Known for his trail-blazing work using clay as a medium, Medansky’s pieces are in museum collections, like the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; he’s collaborated with Kelly Wearstler and Herman Miller; when his beloved studio in downtown Los Angeles was burnt to the ground, the salvaged pieces were picked up by Lawson-Fenning (where they quickly sold out); and, he was one of the first people to collaborate with a coffee shop on a line of artisinal mugs (for G&B coffee and Go Get ‘Em, Tiger).
Now, once again, Medansky is breaking the mold, flexing his creative muscles with unique collaborations that allow him to stretch his design chops. “I think it’s super innate to my soul to want to put my design inprint on things and designing a pair of sneakers is something I’ve always wanted to do,” explains Medansky. “KOIO Sneakers was doing a series of artist collaborations and they approached me to collaborate on a pair of sneakers with them.”
Based in New York, KOIO Sneakers offers leather goods that redefine luxury and the luxury experience. Made in Italy, each pair of Koio sneakers is hand-crafted over a period of 4 hours by the same artisans responsible for Chanel’s leather goods. “Just as Ben’s work is a meditation on minimalism and mechanics, remastered in an eternal material, Koio fuses a modern, minimalist ready-for-anything aesthetic with a refreshing take on old-world craftsmanship,” says Chris Wichert, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of KOIO. Previous partnerships include tattoo artist JonBoy, Flower Shop, Game of Thrones, The Beverly Hills Hotel and American Ballet Theatre’s ballerino, James Whiteside.
The result animates Medansky’s popular Blue Band Mug into a pair of comfortable kicks. White speckled Italian calf leather channels the cups varieagated iron-rich buff clay body while the French blue rubber sole echoes its bright blue belt. As a finishing touch, asymetrical cereamic charms, hand-made by Medansky, dangle from a limited edition of 50 pairs of the low-rise shoes. “I thought it would be really fun to do a piece of jewelry that went with the shoes and call it ‘shoelery’. Priced at $348, the Koio x Ben Medansky sneaker will be available for purchase online and in Koio stores. As a credit to the power of Medansky’s work, a pair has already been snatched up for display at The American Museum of Ceramic Art. “I’ll definitely have to get another pair for myself to wear,” laughs Medansky.
“I’ve always been that ceramic artist in the neighborhood that isn’t doing the same thing that everybody else is doing. I try to be a trend setter than a follower,” he says. Next up, he’s creating swimsuits with LA-based company Pangea, he designed the body for a home security camera for Haven Home and he’s working on large scale pieces, including fireplace mantles, doorways and wallscapes.
“I’m always pushing the envelope. Otherwise, what’s the point?” Certainly this collaboration goes the distance.