Sports brand Adidas contacted none other than Dutch textile, print, and product designer Simone Post. Their question was if she could design rugs made from worn-out Adidas sports shoes for one of their stores. Yes, sports shoes! And this is where I get excited.

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It isn’t strange that Adidas asked Simone Post for this challenge. Simone has quite some experience in reusing fabrics and production leftovers. Have a look at what she did with fabric leftovers by Vlisco. She upcycled them into a stunning interior rug collection called ‘Vlisco Recycled‘.

Rug made from worn Adidas sports shoes by Simone Post | upcycleDZINE
Rug made from worn Adidas sports shoes by Simone Post | upcycleDZINE

The thing you might have noticed in the previous paragraph is that sometimes recycling is mentioned and in other cases upcycling.

Recycling and upcycling?

Well, sometimes it’s difficult. But for me, upcycling comes down to giving an object/product or material a new life and a completely different function. Recycling often involves the crushing and heating of waste. Whereas upcycling is more about taking everyday objects as they are and transforming them into a new object. The latter also uses far less energy which of course is a good thing for our environment. The only downside about upcycling is that’s difficult to produce large quantities.

Rug made from worn Adidas sports shoes by Simone Post | upcycleDZINE

This blog is about designs made through upcycling. And upcycleDZINE tries to stay close to pure upcycling, but once in a while, I come across a product that has to be featured on this blog. And the design in this post is such a product. 

The idea of using discarded Adidas sports shoes, of course, generates more than average attention. Not only because it’s about shoes. But the fact that sports shoes and especially sneakers are very hard to recycle. That’s because they are made out of so many different components. A shoe often uses hard and soft plastics, metals, textiles. And to top it all of, it’s all held together with special very strong glues. All in all, not a very environmentally friendly product.

Rug made from worn Adidas sports shoes by Simone Post | upcycleDZINE

Some people even have more than 300+ pairs. Sports shoes exist in abundance all around the world. Therefore this waste flow is very interesting to tackle and turn it into new products. 

Second life for discarded Adidas sports shoes

The big challenge is of course how and what to do with this waste. Is it possible to give these discarded shoes a new and different second life? 

Rug made from worn Adidas sports shoes by Simone Post | upcycleDZINE

There’s a German based company called I:CO that collects used clothes and shoes worldwide. They recycle unwearable sports shoes into little rubber pallets. Simone’s idea was to create rugs out of it. So for this upcycle idea, she took this raw material to experiment with for the Adidas rugs.

The challenges she had to overcome involved strength, pliability and aesthetics of the rug. Simone asked I:CO to divide the rubber pallets into black and white hues. Why? Well the rugs should have the adidas look that had to be recognisable within the created graphic image.

Rug made from worn Adidas sports shoes by Simone Post | upcycleDZINE

The end result is an attractive and graphic looking series of prototypes. The design shows an effective fresh-looking pattern with an original interpretation of the distinctive stripes of the brand. From a distance, it does not show the origin of this design, namely old and worn-out shoes. You just see a nice graphic black-and-white pattern. Although viewed up-close, all the original color varieties of the former sports shoes are visible and recognizable. 

Rug made from worn Adidas sports shoes by Simone Post | upcycleDZINE
Photos © Ronald Smit

Simone Post and Adidas, together with I:CO, created a great test case to explore the possibilities of recycling and upcycling shoes and the different ways to process this material. And it looks very promising.
What about you, do you like these rugs made from shoes?

Design by Simone Post

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