Taiwan Student Design Competition Footwear Winner 2023: Kheng Yao Kang

Footwear Winner: Kheng Yao Kang

Taiwan Student Design Competition Footwear Winner 2023: Kheng Yao Kang

Kheng Yao, born in Johor, Malaysia, is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in fashion design in Taiwan. Since childhood, Kheng Yao has had a love for painting as a means of expressing his thoughts, receiving awards for his work both domestically and internationally and featuring in numerous successful art exhibitions. Kheng Yao also has a passion for photography and capturing the beauty of the present moment. A skilled observer of life’s small details which he often draws his artistic inspiration from, Kheng Yao hopes his future endeavors will always be closely intertwined with the world of art and design.




Tell us about the inspiration behind your work:

My work, Tafoni, is inspired by and named after the natural phenomenon of Tafoni rock formations. Tafoni are formed through geological processes and weathering, representing the cycles and artistry of nature. I have incorporated the unique characteristics of these small, smooth, rounded rock surface openings into my designs.

The shoes incorporate a cut-out pattern on the upper suede area of the shoe to mimic the structure of Tafoni, which I created using laser cutting to produce three openings of varying sizes and to which I added 3D printed embellishments. I chose to use natural wood for the sole and heel of the shoe to align with the project’s theme of natural elements and to emphasise the theme of sustainability within my work. The outcome is a shoe that is both visually striking in appearance and infused with a sense of vitality.


What do you think makes leather a great material to design with?

I believe that leather is an exceptionally durable material, capable of withstanding daily wear and tear over time. Its innate natural texture not only exudes luxurious, elegant, fashionable and classical aesthetics but also embodies environmental sustainability. Its high degree of malleability enables diverse shapes and styles to be formed and leads the way to endless possibilities in fashion design.



What are your thoughts on leather and sustainability, and how do you think leather can adapt to an industry increasingly focused on sustainability?

I believe that leather holds significant potential for development within the realm of sustainability in fashion. The potential of using recycled leather and investigation into more environmentally conscious manufacturing processes are avenues that could be further explored. Simultaneously, waste reduction, the design of multi-functional products, and extending product lifespans are further integral components of sustainability that must be focused on in the leather industry. I believe that leather holds immense potential within the sustainable fashion movement, but achieving this goal requires shifts in consumer perceptions and industry approaches.


How has this competition influenced your view of working with leather in the future?

This competition has provided me with a fresh perspective on leather. I have not only acquired a wealth of knowledge about the material but have also witnessed its versatile applications in various facets of fashion design. I aspire to engage in further experimentation and exploration of leather-related design in the future, harnessing its potential to craft distinctive fashion creations.

Click here to learn about the Taiwan Design Competition.

Click here to learn more about leather and sustainability.