Founder of Norwegian shoe brand Kastel, Andreas Malo Dyb speaks to us about their alternative approach to the fashion industry, and how movement and energy are the bedrock of their working day.
Launched in 2011, Kastel is a shoe brand with a difference, making stylish yet comfortable sneakers designed especially for the harsh winter climates of their Scandinavian homelands. With a strong emphasis on a Nordic sense of aesthetics and function, Kastel are also hard at work to reduce the environmental impact of their designs.
In conversation with Founder Andreas Malo Dyb, we chat all things Kastel and discover why the HÅG Capisco is the perfect chair for their workspace.
Kastel is an all-day everyday shoe brand. Our goal is to provide comfort and protection without sacrificing style or the environment. We started out just as a couple of guys frustrated with all big sneaker brands neglecting the hardships of our Nordic climate. We only had the option of chunky boots or wet sneakers. So we started a shoe brand with the desire to make sneakers that are not limited by the climate.
Since then we have tried to find more ways to challenge the status quo, so we started Norway’s first self-service shoe store.
First and foremost our sneakers are made from a more rational standpoint. We try to avoid passing microtrends and focus on more timeless designs and useful functions. Once we feel we have made a shoe style that serves the purpose intended, we move on to another problem to solve, not another “expression”. In this way, we try to think like the car industry. Tesla doesn’t need 10 different sedans, and we don’t need ten different waterproof chukka-boots.
Our goal is to completely shift to natural materials but some of our most functional styles need more research to make sure natural materials can provide the same performance as current materials. We still use a majority of polyester-based materials, but we are making a lot of progress with our favorite materials wool and hemp. We will get there though - after all the Vikings already figured this out.
At the moment there is a conflict between the trend of sustainability and the trend of abundance. If we really want to become more sustainable, we have to do much more than replacing materials, we need to rethink the way we do everything. The sneaker world is saturated with culture and lifestyle, and we try to avoid that and focus on the product and what it does for you first.
We are looking into how we can produce shoes that last longer using fewer components and more simple construction. We think it’s time to stop saying less is more, and instead say less is less, as it should be. Sneakers carry a lot of expectations of lifestyle and culture, but we prefer to focus on the product first, and let the lifestyle come by default when your values are aligned.
In this way, we feel we have more in common with furniture design than fashion. Furniture carries great functional responsibility. Shoes were originally a purely functional product, then we realized we could add lifestyle to it, then we got a little carried away with this lifestyle and forgot what shoes were actually supposed to do for you.
We want to bring back the focus on useful shoes that are not over-marketed or over-engineered. An honest “just what you need” approach. In the same way, a chair has to function, otherwise it has no chance no matter how good it looks. And we think as a Norwegian brand we feel a great connection with the design philosophy of HÅG. Balance is everything, both physically and metaphorically. You have to balance design, functionality and sustainability. Only then can you leave some room for some culture to grow on its own merit.
Being a start-up we spend a lot of hours behind the desk for sure. The HÅG Capisco is essential for us as we can really get a range of movement and avoid sitting static constantly. I am sure we would still have them even if they didn’t look as great as they do.
When a product is elegantly shaped to serve a purpose, it can become a beautiful and symbolic piece of art. Much like the HÅG Capisco. For us it is the perfect symbol of usefully elegant. It is not elegant for the sake of elegance, it is an elegant result of form follows function.
Many thanks to Andreas for talking to us. You can find out more about the full range of sneakers designed by Kastel here, and you can follow them on Instagram or Facebook.
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